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French foreign minister dismisses rumoured firing

France's Foreign Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie declared her commitment to the role on Saturday, dismissing rumours she may be sacked within days. The minister has been involved in a series of scandals relating to her controversial links to Tunisia.


AFP - Under-fire French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said on Saturday she is fully committed to her job, declining comment on reports of her imminent sacking.

Speaking in Kuwait, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of independence, Alliot-Marie said "you can see clearly -- I am working; I am one hundred percent committed as far as being foreign minister."

"I will not comment on rumours from Paris," she added in remarks to journalists accompanying her, according to a member of her entourage.

On Friday, two senior cabinet ministers said Alliot-Marie would leave the government on Sunday or Monday.

"Michele Alliot-Marie will leave the government this weekend or on Monday. She should be replaced by Alain Juppe," according to one of the ministers, saying the situation was "untenable" for President Nicolas Sarkozy's government.

The other unnamed minister put Alliot-Marie's future exit down to Sarkozy's plunging support in opinion polls.

"Michele Alliot-Marie has fallen and dragged everyone with her. This must be stopped," he said.

Alliot-Marie has become embroiled in a series of scandals over her controversial links to Tunisia, where she took a holiday during its popular uprising.

Her family also admitted buying a stake in a company from a businessman friend in Tunisia in late December, during the deadly protests that deposed authoritarian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

An aide to Alliot-Marie later admitted that the minister had spoken to Ben Ali by telephone, despite the minister's earlier attempts to play down her contact with his regime.

Just days before Ben Ali's fall, she shocked Tunisian democrats by suggesting France could help train Tunisia's hated police force to better enable it to control the popular uprising against his rule.

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