Tunisia’s former president, Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, died in exile in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, days after a free and fair presidential election in his homeland, his family lawyer said.
“Ben Ali just died in Saudi Arabia,” his lawyer, Mounir Ben Salha, told Reuters over the phone.
The ex-President 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, something unthinkable during Ben Ali’s own era of power.
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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.
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 and received 4% of the votes.