Tunisia - France

Tunisian FM resigns after praising Alliot-Marie

©Reuters

Tunisia's Foreign Minister Ahmed Ounaies resigned Sunday after just over two weeks in the job after criticism of his praise for his French counterpart Michele Alliot-Marie while she was under fire for cosy relations with the entourage of deposed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

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On an official visit to France Ounaies declared Alliot-Marie to be "above all a friend of Tunisia", even as she admitted to using a jet owned by a Tunisian businessman with ties to Ben Ali.

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Alliot-Marie has faced calls to resign over the jet scandal and an earlier offer to help the Ben Ali's regime deal with protests.

Ounaies's resignation is another blow to the interim government, which faces continuing unrest at home.

Three days after his return from France, he faced a demonstration by foreign ministry staff outside and inside the ministry. They demanded his immediate departure, as a result of which he took his personal belongings and left.

In the first government of national unity announced on 17 January the 75-year-old retired diplomat had been appointed ecretary of state at the foreign ministry.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is to visit Tunisia Monday.
 

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