Tunis - Ousted Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali died in his exile in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, Tunisian sources have announced. He was 83 years and died at a Saudi hospital.
Mounir Bin Salha said that Bin Ali died on Thursday in Jeddah and that his body is to be transferred to Makkah, awaiting the family’s decision on his burial.
Who is Bin Ali?
Born in 1936, Ben Ali served as Tunisia’s president from November 1987 until January 14, 2011 when he was toppled by people. The revolution that toppled him was triggered in December 2010 by the self-immolation of a young man in the poverty-stricken centre of the country.
Ben Ali then fled to Saudi Arabia, where he was living in Jeddah. In mid-2012, he was sentenced in absentia to life in jail for his role in the deaths of protesters during the uprising that ousted him.
But Tunisians heard little about the former president's life in exile in Saudi Arabia after a relative said that he had suffered a stroke there in early 2011.
A brief exception came in 2013 when an Instagram account created a buzz online for appearing to show the first photos of the deposed leader in exile - including one of him smiling in striped pyjamas.
Ben Ali was Tunisia's second president since independence from France in 1956 after its first president Habib Bourguiba.
He was appointed minister for national security in 1985, moving up to the interior ministry the following year and the post of prime minister in 1987. One month later, Ben Ali assumed presidency in a bloodless coup against Bourguiba. Ben Ali was reelected by an overwhelming majority in all presidential elections, most recently was on October 25, 2009.
Ben Ali is survived by six children; three daughters by a first marriage and two daughters and a son by Trabelsi.
- With inputs from agencies