772.00/4–2150: Telegram

The Consul General at Turns ( Packer ) to the Secretary of State


61. My Deptel, April 18.1 Following summarizes statements made me by Resident General Mons April 19:

French reform measures Tunisia expected be announced near future not later than July 14. Mons proceeding Paris near future consultation prior final decision.

Three elements present situation: French in Tunisia some of whom like Colonna2 oppose reforms others favor reforms; Nationalists headed by Bourghiba3 who now in Paris hoping be able claim credit for reforms; Bey who wrote Auriol4 in order be able make analogous claim. French problem is grant greater autonomy weighing all factors.

Impossible give me details at this time scope reform measures as French communicating facts no one in order avoid subsequent claims by any group responsibility adoption reforms. Will however inform me earliest possible date precise facts.

Bourghiba’s successively milder statements Paris press indicate increasing probability his demands reconcilable with reform measures. From discussion various Bourghiba statements published local press which I showed Mons, I gather reforms probably will include changes Tunisian cabinet ministers with considerably greater authority vested Tunisian Government and some diminution in practice administrative activities civil controllers whose future role exclusively one of control.

Mons opposed publicity Bey’s letter Auriol at present but thinks publicity probably desirable after announcement reform measures; exact contents not described but Bey twice referred Tunisia’s gratitude, indebtedness France.

Bey is not supporting Bourghiba.

Mons said Nationalists obviously looking United States for sympathy and intimated desirable present circumstances our avoiding action here which might encourage Nationalists to believe any differences exist between French and Americans. This might mean that he is considerably more disturbed present situation here than was [Page 1776] willing admit and that he hopes I will not see any Nationalist leaders. I did not inform him of recent talks with Boudali5 and Ben Youssef6 nor commit myself this matter.

Reference Bey’s alleged support Nationalist (my Deptel 59) whether Bey is fooling French, fooling Nationalist or possibly himself is not clear.

Repeated Paris 51.

  1. Not printed. In it Consul General Packer reported that several days earlier he had conversed with Salah Ben Youssef, Secretary General of the Néo-Destour (New Constitution) Party. Ben Youssef stated that the Bey of Tunisia, Sidi Mohammed al-Amin (or Sidi Mohammed Lamine Pacha), approved the Néo-Destour goal of an independent constitutional monarchy under the Bey but outside the French Union. (772.00/4–1550)
  2. Antonie Colonna, French representative from Tunisia in the French Council of the Republic.
  3. Habib Bourghiba, President of the Néo-Destour Party and leading Tunisian nationalist leader.
  4. Vincent Auriol, President of the French Republic.
  5. Nouri Boudali, Assistant Secretary-General of the Union Générale Tunisienne de Travail (UGTT), the principal Tunisian nationalist trade union organization. Consul General Packer’s conversation with Boudali on January 30 regarding conditions in Tunisia was reported upon in a memorandum of conversation transmitted to the Department of State as an enclosure to despatch 55, February 4, from Tunis, neither printed. (772.00/2–450)
  6. Regarding the conversation with Ben Youssef, see footnote 1 above.