French minister's parents had Tunisia ties: report

15th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

Fresh allegations about French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie's controversial links to Tunisia emerged on Tuesday with a report that her parents bought a company from a friend of hers there.

The report in the investigative weekly Le Canard Enchaine threatened to further embarrass Alliot-Marie, who resisted calls to resign this month after she admitted holidaying in Tunisia during its popular uprising.

It said her father Bernard Marie, 94, and his wife Renee, 92, bought shares in the company on December 30 from Tunisian businessman Aziz Miled, who it said was close to the regime of Tunisia's ousted dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Le Canard Enchaine had last month broken the initial story that Alliot-Marie accepted free rides in a plane owned by Miled, also during her December holiday, while the uprising that drove out Ben Ali was under way.

That report dragged her into a scandal, prompting calls for her to resign by political opponents. She denied Miled was close to Ben Ali's regime, which France tolerated for 23 years but turned against after he was ousted.

Tuesday's report said Alliot-Marie's parents already owned 13 percent of a real estate company Ikram, mostly owned by Miled and his son, from whom they bought the remaining stake on December 30 in a deal at a hotel owned by Miled.

It said the minister was also at the hotel at the time.

"Any possible transactions by her parents do not concern Michele Alliot-Marie at all and it is not for her to comment on them," the minister's communications chief Guillaume Didier told AFP.

President Nicolas Sarkozy defended Alliot-Marie in the earlier scandal as well as his Prime Minister Francois Fillon, who admitted holidaying in Egypt in December at the expense of its now deposed leader Hosni Mubarak.

Sarkozy called on ministers to take their holidays in France in future and to declare any possible gifts offered to them abroad for government approval.

© 2011 AFP

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