Tunisian foreign minister resigns

Ahmed Ounaies steps down after being embroiled in controversy over compliments he paid to his French counterpart.

    Ounaies, left, has faced criticism for praising his Michele Alliot-Marie, right, his French counterpart [EPA]

    Ahmed Ounaies, the Tunisian foreign minister, has resigned from his post, just over two weeks after first taking the job, the state news agency says.

    He was embroiled in a row over compliments that he paid to Michele Alliot-Marie, his French counterpart.

    "In effect, he really hasn't been pursuing his role as foreign minister for about a week now, since he made those comments, which really angered people here in Tunisia," Nazanine Moshiri, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Kesserine, reported.

    Tunisians suspect that the French played a role in propping up Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the former president who was forced to flee the country last month. A week before his departure, the French government had offered assistance to his security forces.

    "So you can imagine what people felt when they had their foreign minister going to Paris last week and saying that it was 'a dream' to meet the French foreign minister," our correspondent said.

    It is as yet unclear who would replace Ounaies.

    Hundreds of workers at the Tunisian foreign ministry began a strike last week in protest at the minister's praise of Alliot-Marie.

    Some French politicians have suggested that Alliot-Marie, too, should step down, after she suggested during the protests against Ben Ali that France could supply riot-control assistance to the Tunisian security forces.

    Ounaies's resignation is likely to cause more disruptions for a coalition government that has already seen several ministers either resign or be fired since it stepped in to fill the vacuum left by the departure of Ben Ali.

    Kemal Mourjan, the previous foreign minister who had also served under Ben Ali, had also resigned from his post.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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