French President orders ministers to holiday in France to avoid scandals

PARIS: French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday ordered his ministers to holiday in France in the future in order to avoid further scandals like the current ones with North African leaders.

According to Radio France Internationale (RFI), Sarkozy held a cabinet meeting in which he added that invitations to holiday abroad must be authorized by the Prime Minister's Office and the Presidency.

"Invitations accepted abroad will be authorized by the prime minister and the presidential diplomatic unit to see whether they are compatible with France's foreign policy," said the French leader. "What was common a few years ago can shock nowadays. So it must be strictly monitored."

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Francis Fillon admitted that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak paid the holidays expenses last year. Fillon and his family spent New Year's holidays on a trip near Egypt's Nile River.

The Premier also admitted that the controversial Egyptian leader lent him a private plane for his trip. The admission was another hit to Sarkozy's administration after controversy surrounding Foreign Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie.

The Foreign Minister is under the spotlight for her links with ousted Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Alliot-Marie has been under calls for resignation after it was known that she had links with close allies of Ben Ali.

The minister acknowledged she made a mistake by borrowing the private jet owned by a businessman who is also an associate of Ben Ali and his family. The event took place during the riots in the African country that led to Ben Ali's dismissal.


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