Tunisia’s Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem, from the ruling Islamist Ennahda party, has found himself at the center of an embarrassing scandal following accusations of public money embezzlement and involvement in an extramarital affair.
According to documents published by Tunisian journalist and blogger, Olfa Riahi, the Islamist minister spent several nights at the Sheraton hotel in Tunis with a woman and paid for his stay from the government’s coffers.
Riahi she obtained the receipt and the billing information bearing names of the minister and his alleged mistress. In an interview with alchourouk.com, Riahi said it took her two and half months to verify the authenticity of the documents and trace the bill payments.
“I have the bank account of the foreign ministry and I am certain the documents are authentic,” calling on the authorities to open a probe into the “scandal.”
The minister appeared in the state television dismissing the allegations as part of a plot against his Islamist government. He said he expects similar accusations to be leveled against other ministers.
But he admitted staying at the Sheraton hotel “because he does not own a house in the capital and because the hotel was near his office.” He also admitted that the woman mentioned in Riahi’s documents was true, but said she was a “relative” who came to see him at the hotel.