Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, a former president of Tunisia /Photo: Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali/Facebook

Ousted Tunisian president dies in exile

Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, a former president of Tunisia has died in exile, his family said.

Ben Ali, 83, fled to Saudi Arabia when he left office and was living there before his death on Thursday.

His funeral will take place on Friday in Saudi Arabia, his lawyer told Reuters news agency.

Ben Ali’s death is coming days after Tunisia held the second free presidential election since he was ousted.

Ben Ali came to power in 1987, ousting Habib Bourguiba to become Tunisia’s second-ever president. He promised reform, democracy, women’s rights and education. But he failed to deliver a more free and open society.

Having led the country for 23 years, he received widespread criticism for suppressing political freedoms and for widespread corruption.

Ben Ali was forced out of power through a mass street protests. His toppling in a 2011 uprising triggered the “Arab Spring” revolutions.

Ali fled Tunisia alongside his wife, Leïla Ben Ali and children. The interim Tunisian charged and sentenced Ben Ali and wife to 35 years in prison on 20 June 2011 on charges of theft and unlawful possession of cash and jewellery.

He was also sentenced in 2012 to life imprisonment for inciting violence and murder.

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