Fallen Tunisian autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali dies

Fallen Tunisian autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali dies
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Ben Ali and his wife Leila mark the 20th anniversary of Ben Ali's presidency, in Rades, outside Tunis in 2007. (AP)
Fallen Tunisian autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali dies
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Tunisia's President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali waves to supporters after he took the oath at the national assembly in Tunis November 12, 2009. (Reuters)
Fallen Tunisian autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali dies
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Ben Ali welcomes Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat prior to their talks in Tunis in 2001. (AP)
Fallen Tunisian autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali dies
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President Bush shakes hands with Ben Ali in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington in 2004. (AP)
Fallen Tunisian autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali dies
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Former Tunisian President Habib Ben Ali Bourguiba (R) shakes hands with his then prime minister Ben Ali (L) in 1986. (AFP)
Fallen Tunisian autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali dies
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Ben Ali waves to the crowd upon arrival in Rades stadium where he delivered his speech on the 50th anniversary of independence of Tunisia from France in 2006. (AFP)
Fallen Tunisian autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali dies
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Ben Ali (C) is greeted by France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) and Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak as he arrives at the EU-Mediterranean summit in Paris, July 13, 2008. (Reuters)
Fallen Tunisian autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali dies
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Ben Ali poses for an official picture in front of the Tunisian flag in 1988. (AFP)
Fallen Tunisian autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali dies
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Ben Ali meets Libya's leader Muammar Qaddafi as they pose for a family photo during the third European Union-Africa summit in Tripoli in 2010. (Reuters)
Fallen Tunisian autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali dies
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Children welcome Tunisian President Ben Ali in 2008 as he arrives to a meeting marking the 21st anniversary of his accent to power in Tunis. (AP)
Updated 20 September 2019

Fallen Tunisian autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali dies

Fallen Tunisian autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali dies
  • Ben Ali was the first of several Arab leaders to be driven from power during regional uprisings
  • Ben Ali ruled the North African country from 1987 until 2011

TUNIS: Former Tunisian president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, the first leader to be toppled by the Arab Spring revolts, died on Thursday in Saudi Arabia.
"We had confirmation of his death 30 minutes ago," Tunisia's foreign ministry said, without giving further details.
The 83-year-old's lawyer, Mounir Ben Salha, confirmed the news, citing family members and Ben Ali's doctor.
Ben Ali, who ruled his North African country from 1987 until 2011, was viewed by some as a bulwark against extremism, but faced criticism for muzzling the opposition and his reluctance to embrace democracy.
Eventually, growing frustration over unemployment and high prices snapped.
In late 2010, after a young trader died when he set himself on fire, protests erupted across the country and sparked a deadly clampdown.
Ben Ali fled Tunisia on Jan. 14, 2011 and sought exile in Saudi Arabia.
His rapid departure sparked a string of similar uprisings across the region, toppling Egyptian and Libyan strongmen Hosni Mubarak and Moamer Qaddafi.
The turmoil triggered what was to become Syria's devastating eight-year war.
In mid-2012, Ben Ali was sentenced in absentia to life in jail for his role in the deaths of protesters during the uprising that ousted him.
Ben Ali is survived by six children; three daughters by a first marriage and two daughters and a son by Leila Trabelsi.