French President Nicolas Sarkozy pitched for close cooperation between Europe and its southern Mediterranean neighbours in a speech to Tunis students Wednesday on the final day of his state visit to Tunisia.
Tunisian rights activists criticised visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy after he praised the
At the start of a trip aimed at boosting economic ties with one of
He said President Zine al Abidine Ben Ali, in power since 1987, was fighting terrorism—“the enemy of democracy”—and warned of the consequences for regional security if a Taliban-style government took power in a north African country.
“Sarkozy skirted the issue of human rights and democracy in
“It shocked rights activists here as they expected a different stand from
Kechana and Al Mawqaf managing director Nejib Allouz are in the fourth day of a hunger strike at their newspaper’s offices in
The government denies the accusations.
Sarkozy and Ben Ali oversaw on Monday the signing of accords on nuclear cooperation, migration and aid.
State airline Tunisair reached a $1.57 billion deal to buy 19 planes from Airbus, a unit of French-German aerospace and defence group EADS <EAD.PA>. French engineering firm Alstom also won a 360 million euro deal to equip a Tunisian power plant.
The authorities deny the accusations. They say they are committed to democracy and respect of human rights and will press ahead with democratic reforms to prevent radical Islamists emerging to wreck the region’s stability.
The security services have cracked down on anyone showing a readiness to join or help al Qaeda. Lawyers say about 1,000 people have been arrested since 2003 on terrorism charges.
“Sarkozy is encouraging the government here to pursue its repression because he told the country’s leaders they are on the right track,” said Radia Nasraoui, a human rights lawyer.
But Reda Kefi, editor of the independent weekly L’Expression, said pressure from
Date created : 2008-04-30