France has suspended the sales of arms and riot police equipment to Egypt, the Paris government stated Saturday. Prime Minister Francois Fillon told AFP the decision was taken by the prime minister's office on Jan. 27 and conveyed to the official bodies concerned on the following day, thus confirming a report by the daily Le Monde.
The exportation of explosive riot-control material such as tear gas grenades was halted two days earlier, on the day when rioting against the regime of Hosni Mubarak began. These items are under the responsibility of French customs.
AFP explained that the French government recently came under pressure from the socialist opposition for continuing to approve exports of riot control products to Tunisia after the start of the uprising that toppled that country's president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Prime Minister Francois Fillon acknowledged that several government ministries had authorized the exports to Tunisia in November and January, but said the exports had not actually taken place, because a committee under the Prime Minister's Office did not grant them final approval.
Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie caused controversy in January when she suggested France could train Tunisian police to maintain order more efficiently, following reports that dozens of unarmed protesters were shot dead there.