Africa

France's Hollande praises Tunisia as 'model' for region

French President Francois Hollande speaks with his Tunisian counterpart Moncef Marzouki in Tunis, 5 July 2013
Image caption Mr Hollande was speaking after talks with his Tunisian counterpart Moncef Marzouki

French President Francois Hollande has called Tunisia "a model in the region" and pledged 500m euros ($640m; £430m) to support its democratic transition.

Events in Tunisia showed Islam and democracy were compatible, he said.

He was speaking in the capital Tunis at the end of a two-day visit - the first by a French head of state since the revolution in 2011 that ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

That uprising was the first of the Arab Spring that swept across the region.

"In Libya the transition has been tainted by violence; in Egypt the transition was stopped after the removal of the elected president; and in Syria, desire for change led to war," Mr Hollande told Constituent Assembly members.

He expressed his desire to rebuild ties with the former French colony, which is ruled by moderate Islamists elected after the revolution and which he described as the "new Tunisia".

"You are heading in the right direction," said Mr Hollande.

There had been tension between the two countries following the revolution due to former French President Nicolas Sarkozy's support for Mr Ben Ali.

As well as pledging 500 million euros for Tunisian investment in 2013-2014, Mr Hollande said some of the country's one billion euros of debt to France would be used for development projects.

Tunisia's ruling party, Ennahda, this week rejected the military removal of President Mohammed Morsi in Egypt, saying legitimacy was represented by the ousted president, and no-one else.