Tunisia crisis: France urges Ben Ali 'openness'

14th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

France welcomed Friday Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's offer to form a more inclusive government and urged him to continue along the path of "openness".

"We listened carefully to the measures announced by President Ben Ali to restore calm and reduce violence," French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told reporters, as protest marches continued in Tunisia.

"We listened to the measures he announced to encourage openness. We encourage him to continue along this route," Valero said.

On Thursday, in a bid to quell an unprecedented wave of political unrest, Ben Ali promised in a national address that he would not seek another term in office in 2014 and vowed to liberalise Tunisia's political system.

France on Thursday broke its cautious silence on the bloody revolt in its north African former colony.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon condemned the state's "disproportionate use of violence" after a French citizen died in a protest.

One of the protesters shot dead during marches in Tunisia held joint French and Tunisian nationality, officials and a close relation said Thursday, as the death toll there hit 66, according to a rights group.

© 2011 AFP

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