French FM resigns on scandalous Tunisia relations

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French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie announced her resignation on Sunday, yielding to public indignation on her scandalous relation with the former Tunisian regime.

The beleaguered minister insisted that she did nothing wrong to France's interest and her public service, local press AFP quoted her statement as saying.

Returning from Kuwait for its 50th anniversary of independence, Alliot-Marie had a talk with Prime Minister Francois Fillon late Sunday, but did not reveal what they had discussed.

Local radio RFI confirmed her resignation later on, quoting a letter delivered to Fillon. Defense Minister Alain Juppe is due to take over as new foreign minister, the radio station added.

President Nicolas Sarkozy was scheduled to give a national address at 20:00 local time (GMT 1900), in which he was expected to talk about international affairs and lay out the new adjustment to his cabinet.

Since January, Alliot-Marie has been blamed for her controversial relations with the former Tunisian authority under ousted President Ben Ali.

She bore the first brunt after blundering in the public about sending policing equipment to aid the former Tunisian authority against increasing protests, which eventually led to the ouster of Ben Ali.

Later on, local media disclosed that the minister and her family accepted an invitation from one Tunisian tycoon, who was reportedly in Ben Ali's camp, and spent the Christmas holiday in Tunisia right before the political crisis there reached the peak.

Alliot-Marie has worked as foreign minister for less than 100 days since November 14 last year.

French minister for parliamentary relations Patrick Ollier, who is Alliot-Marie's partner and spent the controversial holiday in Tunisia with her, said on Friday that he would also quit if she lost her job.

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