Under-fire France names new Tunis envoy

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France is to replace its ambassador to Tunis with its current envoy to Baghdad, an official told AFP Wednesday, amid criticism of Paris' response to its former colony's political revolution.

Iraq envoy Boris Boillon will replace Pierre Menat in Tunis following a government decision taken Wednesday, the official said, requesting anonymity.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy this week admitted that France had underestimated the anger of the Tunisian people at toppled leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's regime.

France had warm ties with Ben Ali's regime during his 23 years in power but made an embarrassing U-turn after the authoritarian ruler bowed to popular protests and fled the country this month.

It was not until after Ben Ali was driven out that Sarkozy backed the protest movement and the fugitive ex-leader was denied refuge in France, which throughout his rule had praised his economic management.

At one stage, when rights groups were already reporting police had shot dead dozens of protesters, Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie suggested France could train the force to better maintain order.

© 2011 AFP

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