French Foreign Minister Louis de Guiringaud, offended by anti-French demonstrators who greeted him at the airport, announced that he was cutting short an offical visit to Tanzania without holding scheduled meetings with the country's leaders.
De Guiringaud, on the last stop of a four-nation African tour, was visibly angered by the 200 protesters, mostly students, carrying signs criticizing French arms sales to South Africa.
"If you cannot stop that (demonstration), I will terminate my visit forthwith," De Guiringaud shouted at Tanzanian Foreign Minister Ben Mkapa after stepping off the airplane.
De Guiringaud's anger grew when the demonstrators briefly blocked his path to an airport lounge where he was to hold a news conference.
He declined to answer reporters' questions, however, insisting that Mkapa stop the demonstration.
"It is your responsibility," he said, pointing his finger at the Tanzanian official. "I am a representative of France. I have not been received like that anywhere."
Later de Guiringaud demanded an apology from the Tanzanian government, saying, "If I do not receive this apology, I will cancel the dinner, the meetings, everything. I have already given orders for my plane to be ready to leave at 9 tomorrow morning."
He added that the demonstration could not have been held without the consent of the government, saying, "In any country people cannot get into airports without the consent of the police."
The protesters followed De Guiringaud's motorcade to his hotel, as Tanzanian officials shuttled back and forth between the hotel and the Foreign Ministry trying to work out a solution.
Their efforts were to no avail, however, and a French spokesman announced later that De Guiringaud would leave Friday morning. The visit was scheduled to end Sunday after talks with Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere and other officials. Foreign Minister Mkapa had told him that there was no danger from the protesters.
A Tanzanian statement issued later called De Guiringaud's demand for an apology "absolutely unacceptable."
"I told him it was not a question of getting hurt but a question of dignity," the French official said.