Multiple Tunisian news media on Thursday reported that former president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali had died in Saudi Arabia, citing non-Tunisian sources.
Ben Ali’s lawyer Mounir Ben Salha, confirmed via a phone to Reuters that Ben Ali has just died in Saudi Arabia.
Last week media were awash with the news that the former Tunisian leader has been hospitalised for a health crisis in Saudi Arabia, Mouni Ben Salha the ex-president’s lawyer told Mosaique radio that Ben Ali’s daughter called him to say the 83-year-old is “very sick” after years of treatment for prostate cancer.
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.
However, while they have enjoyed a much smoother march to democracy than citizens of the other Arab states that also rose up in 2011, many of them are economically worse off than they were under Ben Ali.