Tunisia FM steps down over French row

Tunisian Foreign Minister Ahmed Ounaiss has resigned, the state news agency said.

Tunisia FM steps down over French row

Tunisian Foreign Minister Ahmed Ounaiss has resigned, the state news agency reported on Sunday, a week after he became embroiled in a row over reports he paid to his French opposite number.

The resignation is likely to cause new disruption to a coalition government which has already seen several ministers resign or be fired since it stepped in to fill the vacuum left by last month's overthrow of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

Many Tunisians were angered when Ounaiss said he had always dreamed of meeting French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, who is accused by opponents in France of being too close to Tunisia's ousted administration.

Ounaiss had been in his post for less than three weeks. The state-run TAP news agency cited a foreign ministry statement announcing that he had stepped down, but did not say why or who would replace him.

Hundreds of workers at the Tunisian foreign ministry began a strike early last week in protest at the minister's praise of Alliot-Marie, which they said showed a lack of respect for the Tunisian revolution.

Weeks of protests in Tunisia, during which dozens of people were killed by police, forced Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia after 23 years of authoritarian rule.

Some French lawmakers have called for Alliot-Marie to step down after she suggested during the protests that France could supply riot control know-how to Ben Ali's security forces.

It also emerged that she took two flights on a private plane owned by a Tunisian businessman during private visits to the former French colony.

Reuters

Last Mod: 13 Şubat 2011, 15:50
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