First Published: 2012-07-18

 

Marzouki vows security, fair trial for exiled Ben Ali

 

Tunisian President vows to guarantee ex-strongman Ben Ali security, fair trial as he visits France in bid to restore strained ties.

 

Middle East Online

By Nadege Puljak – PARIS

‘Tunisia has regained its pride and its dignity’

Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki vowed on Tuesday to guarantee ex-strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali security and a fair trial as he visited France in a bid to restore strained ties.

At a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande, Marzouki said he could guarantee "physical security" and "a fair trial" for Ben Ali, who is in exile in Saudi Arabia after he was toppled in a popular uprising last year.

Marzouki said Tunisia wanted to regain all the assets allegedly embezzled by Ben Ali, as Hollande said France was ready to help Tunisia recover those being held outside France.

Hollande told Marzouki that France would "stand at your side" in Tunisia's transition, as the Tunisian leader said the country had been transformed since its revolution.

"Tunisia is in the process of breaking free... It has a chance of real economic development, but beyond all these achievements Tunisia has regained its pride and its dignity," Marzouki said.

Marzouki arrived in France Tuesday for a three-day visit aimed at rebuilding close links between Tunisia and its former colonial ruler that were strained during the revolution.

Keen to win diplomatic support and maintain strong trade relations, Marzouki was to meet top officials and on Wednesday address the National Assembly -- the first foreign leader to do so since 2006.

Ahead of his visit, Marzouki said he was hoping to erase tensions over France's slow and confused response to the popular revolt.

"Tunisians did not appreciate the attitude of former French governments who had given a certain support to the dictatorship," Marzouki said in an interview in Tunisia.

The previous governments of presidents Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy fostered close ties with Ben Ali's regime and ministers in Sarkozy's administration sparked anger in Tunisia by failing to immediately back the uprising, the first of the revolts that became known as the Arab Spring.

Just days before Ben Ali's fall, then foreign minister Michele Alliot-Marie shocked Tunisian democrats by suggesting France could help train Tunisia's hated security forces to help them better control the popular uprising.

Alliot-Marie was later forced to resign following revelations linking her family to a businessman allegedly close to Ben Ali's regime who had provided her with free flights during a December holiday while the uprising was under way.

"You will remember the verbal mistakes of certain French ministers during the revolution. This left an impression in Tunisia. This is an impression I would like to erase," Marzouki said.

France is Tunisia's largest trading partner and some 600,000 Tunisians live on French territory.

More than 1,200 French businesses operate in Tunisia and trade last year rose to 7.6 billion euros ($9.4 billion) from 6.9 billion euros in 2010.

After his address to the National Assembly and a meeting with Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Wednesday, Marzouki was to head to the southern city of Marseille on Thursday to meet local officials and members of the Tunisian community.

 

Abadi, Sadr meet in Jordan

Opposition calls on Iraqi Kurd leader to step down

UN ends Libya talks with no progress made

Tillerson pushes to undercut Iran at landmark Saudi, Iraq meeting

Greening the Camps brings food and hope to refugees

No clear US strategy in Syria after Raqqa liberation

Gulf share values plummet

US-backed forces capture key Syria oil field

More than half of Austrians vote for anti-immigration party

Washington sees potential Hezbollah threat in the US

Cairo killing sparks security concerns among Copts

Iraq PM arrives in Saudi to upgrade ties

35 Egyptian police killed in Islamist ambush

Morocco recalls Algeria envoy over 'hashish money' jibe

Ceremony marks 75 years since WWII Battle of El Alamein

Somalia attack death toll rises to 358

Long road ahead for families of jailed Morocco protesters

How Raqa recapture affects complex Syrian war

Israel hits Syrian artillery after Golan fire

Germany advances Israel submarine deal after corruption holdup

Bashir Gemayel's killer convicted, 35 years later

SDF hails 'historic victory' against IS in Raqa

Hamas delegation visits Iran

Turkish court orders release of teacher on hunger strike

Yemen rebel youth minister urges children to join war

Iran's Guards show no intention of curbing activities in Mideast

EU will cut some money for Turkey as ties sour

Iraqi workers return to oil fields retaken from Kurds

Kurdish disarray shows resurgence of Iraq's army

Iranian military chief visits frontline near Syria's Aleppo

Iraq army takes last Kurd-held area of Kirkuk province

Ancient Turkish town set to vanish forever under floodwaters

Turkey issues arrest warrants for 110 people over Gulen links

Lebanon approves first budget since 2005

Tillerson does not expect Gulf crisis to be resolved soon

Moscow seeks to boost its influence in Kurdistan through oil

Hamas calls US unity comments ‘blatant interference’

OPEC chief pleased with oil market rebalancing

Turkish police detain leading civil society figure

G7, tech giants meet to tackle terror online

Iraq’s Kurdish regional government open to Baghdad talks

Tensions flare among Yemen's rebels

Baghdad court issues arrest warrant for Iraqi Kurd VP

Erdogan, Nigerian counterpart to ramp up cooperation

Russian medics operate on Yemen's Saleh despite embargo