TUNISIA: New prime minister named; French foreign minister resigns over ties to deposed government

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Tunisia’s interim president named Baji Sebsi the country’s new prime minister Sunday after Mohamed Ghannouchi stepped down amid protests.

Meanwhile, France’s foreign minister resigned her post after controversy over her ties to the former Tunisian regime.


Tunisian protesters complained that Ghannouchi, an ally of deposed president Zine el Abidine ben Ali, was not implementing change. Ghannouchi stepped down after three protesters were killed Saturday, saying he did not want to make decisions that caused casualties. Interim President Foued Mubazza named the new prime minister on state television on Sunday.

Sebsi served as foreign minister under President Habib Bourguiba from 1981 to 1986, according to Bloomberg News. The change in leaders prompted rejoicing in the streets of Tunis, where protesters had clashed with police the day before.

In France, Foreign Minister Michele Alliot Marie sent a letter of resignation to French President Nicolas Sarkozy. She had been on vacation in Tunisia during the revolt, and it was revealed that she had links with the Ben Ali regime. She flew to Tunisia on a private plane owned by a Tunisian businessman with ties to Ben Ali, and reportedly offered to lend French riot police to the country to help put down the uprising, Reuters said.

Alliot Marie maintained that she did nothing wrong, but said she felt compelled to resign because critics had created the appearance that France’s foreign policy was compromised.

-- Alana Semuels