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Foreign minister set to resign over Tunisia blunders

media Michèle Alliot-Marie. Michèle Alliot-Marie. Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

Persistent reports say France’s Foreign Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie will resign on Sunday, after a growing scandal over her ties with ousted leaders in Tunisia. Defence Minister Alain Juppe is seen as the candidate most likely to succeed her.

Dossier: Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution

Alliot-Marie’s anticipated resignation comes after a series of scandals involving her personal connections to Tunisia at a time when the country was in the midst of civil unrest that ousted President Zine el Abedine Ben Ali.

Questions began circulating during the early days of fighting in Tunisia, when the foreign minister vacationed to the seaside town of Tabarka using a jet owned by a Tunisian businessman.

She was accompanied on the December trip by her partner Patrick Ollier, who is also a minister within the French government.

Alliot-Marie’s ministry confirmed reports that she had spoken to Ben Ali by phone during a post-Christmas visit.

And her parents were revealed to have bought shares in a property company owned by an associate of Ben Ali.

Alliot-Marie had caused protest early into the uprising in Tunisia, when she offered the "savoir faire" of France's security forces to help quell the fighting there. The offer was made just three days before Ben Ali was removed from office.

President Nicolas Sarkozy is scheduled to speak Sunday evening in a national address. He plans to discuss international affairs, as well as the upcoming changes in his government.

Tunisia's Foreign Minister Ahmed Ounaies was forced to resign last week after defending Alliot-Marie.

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