Ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali dies in exile in Saudi Arabia
19/09/2019 21:00, TUNIS/Tunisia

(TAP) – Ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali died at the age of 83 after a long illness, official sources told TAP.

Ben Ali, who ruled Tunisia from November 1987 to January 2011, died in exile in Saudi Arabia where he took refuge after the revolution of January 14, 2011 overthrew his regime.

Demonstrations and protests broke out in Tunisia in late 2010 after Mohamed Bouazizi, from the governorate of Sidi Bouzid, died after setting himself on fire on December 17, 2010. The uprising lasted almost a month and ended the regime of the former president. Ben Ali fled the country on January 14, 2011 in the midst of a chaotic situation in the country, taking refuge in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, accompanied by his wife Leila Trabelsi and their daughter Halima and son Mohammed Zine El Abidine, where he lived until his death on Thursday.

He has not appeared in public since his exile in Saudi Arabia and little information has been provided on his situation and attitude regarding what happened in Tunisia and the circumstances and events that ended his reign, with the exception of certain statements by his Lebanese lawyer Akram Azoury and several cases concerning him.

Media and social networks reported information about his deteriorating health and even rumours of his death, but family members posted photos on these networks to dispel rumours.

Since the fall of his regime, Tunisian courts have handed down numerous verdicts, including life sentences, against Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in cases of corruption and repression of demonstrators during the events of the revolution which, according to official statistics, left 338 dead.

International human rights organisations, in particular, have described Ben Ali's regime as authoritarian and anti-democratic, criticising restrictions on freedoms and opponents, non-compliance with international political rights standards and interference in the work of local human rights organisations.

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the second President of the Tunisian Republic, was born on September 3, 1936 in Hammam Sousse, remaining in power for more than 23 years (November 7, 1987/ January 14, 2011) after succeeding President Habib Bourguiba following the so-called "medical coup," a medical report on which Ben Ali relied to dismiss him stating that "Bourguiba" was unable to carry out his duties as President of the Republic due to worsening illness and old age. He was elected president in 1989 and re-elected in 1994, 1999, 2004 and 2009 in elctions challenged by his opponents for lack of integrity.

He was appointed Tunisian Ambassador to Warsaw (Poland) for a period of four years, Minister of the Interior on April 28, 1986, then Prime Minister in October 1987.

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