The French Force of 15 thousand in Tunisia has been told by President Bourguiba, in effect, to prepare to go back to France or come out of their bases prepared to fight.
The French Force of 15 thousand in Tunisia has been told by President Bourguiba, in effect, to prepare to go back to France or come out of their bases prepared to fight. That came out of an interview granted to NBC News Correspondent Edwin Newman tonight. Newman says Bourguiba has no way to retreat from his demand that the French leave his country. Bourguiba said he cannot prevent guerrilla warfare if the French refuse to go. As for the vital naval base at Bizerte, Bourguiba said he's ready and willing to discuss placing it under control of N A T O...because Tunisia wants to link to the West. But the French must go. (FILM IN)
Yesterday...thousands of angry Tunisians jammed the square in front of the Presidential Palace in Tunis. Extra police details had to be brought out to handle the crush. The mob...which included a substantial number of veiled women...shouted: "Give us arms. Out with the French." Many carried pictures of Bourguiba as they urged him to lead them into action against the French troops still stationed in Tunisia. At the same time...37 miles from here...a similar demonstration was going on outside the huge French naval station in Bizerte, where some 10 thousand French soldiers, sailors, airmen were isolated by Tunisian..manned roadblocks. As the mob outside the Presidential Palace in Tunis grew in size and intensified its demands for action..bourguiba was holding a news conference inside. This is when Bourguiba made his first demand that France pull all her troops out of Tunisia and also give up her important Bizerte Naval base..or else forfeit his country's friendship. When word of this reached the mob outside...it went wild. Bourguiba had asked the Tunisians to remain calm. But like any political leader...who whips up strong feelings against an unpopular cause..he can now lead the Tunisians only as long as he follows their wishes...despite his pro-western orientation.