France envoy likens New Tunisia to post-Saddam Iraq

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France must act quickly to show its support for the Tunisian people following a series of misjudgements, the country's new envoy to Tunis said on Sunday.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's administration has been accused of moving slowly to condemn the violent repression of protests earlier this month that led to the downfall of Tunisia's longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

"We must very quickly show France's solidarity with the Tunisian people -- and show we stand beside them -- as they take this new step," Boris Boillon, the outgoing ambassador to Baghdad, told AFP after a news conference.

"Tunisia is a new challenge because of the new situation ... They are our brothers who have decided to take their destinies into their own hands," said Boillon, who has been named to take over as France's ambassador to Tunis.

"For a new era in relations between Tunisia and France, we need new men," he said, drawing a parallel between the "New Tunisia" and the "New Iraq" following the US-led invasion of 2003 that ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.

"In the two countries, a wind of change has blown through the regime and, as Iraq has had to do, Tunisia must find the path to democracy."

© 2011 AFP

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