France hails success of Tunisia poll
France on Monday hailed the success of Tunisia's first free elections and congratulated its former colony on inspiring popular revolts around the Arab world.
"These historic elections were marked by the voters' democratic fervour, which demonstrated their commitment and attachment to civic responsibility," Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said.
"France salutes the good organisation of the first free elections in Tunisia, where the revolution opened the way for the Arab Spring. Tunisia has confirmed its pioneering role," he said.
"France has always been a partner for Tunisia and is more than ever by its side in these days of legitimate national pride," Juppe promised.
The French government had close ties with Tunisian strongman Zine el Abidine Ben Ali throughout his autocratic 23-year reign and was slow to abandon him when his own people rose up against him late last year.
Embarrassed, Paris has since tried to reinvent its role in the region, insisting it will henceforth back all popular calls for reform, and taking a lead role in supporting the revolt in Tunisia's neighbour Libya.
© 2011 AFP