Tunisia's ousted president Ben Ali passes away - GulfToday

Tunisia's ousted president Ben Ali passes away

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Zine El Abidine Ben Ali waves to supporters in Tunis. File / Zoubeir Souissi / Reuters

Tunisia's ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali died in exile in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, days after a free presidential election in his homeland, his family lawyer said.

"Ben Ali just died in Saudi Arabia," the lawyer, Mounir Ben Salha, told media by phone.

"Ben Ali has died on Thursday in Saudi Arabia," Tunisia's foreign ministry told reporters.

"We had confirmation of his death 30 minutes ago," the ministry said, without giving further details. Ben Ali was 83.

Ben Ali fled Tunisia in January 2011 as his compatriots rose up against his oppressive rule in a revolution that inspired other Arab Spring uprisings abroad and led to a democratic transition at home.

On Sunday, Tunisians voted in an election that featured candidates from across the political spectrum, sending two political outsiders through to a second round vote unthinkable during Ben Ali's own era of power.

While almost all the candidates in Sunday's election were vocal champions of the revolution, one of them, Abir Moussi, campaigned as a supporter of Ben Ali's ousted government, receiving 4% of the votes.

Agencies