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Tunisia’s ex-leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali laid to rest in Saudi Arabia

Tunisia’s ex-president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who died in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, was buried in the Muslim holy city of Medina. He had been in exile in the Kingdom since 2011.

Ben Ali was buried at Al-Baqi cemetery close to the Prophet Mohammed’s mosque, which is a site of great reverence for Muslims. Covered in a green shroud, his body was quietly laid to rest by his family and a number of other men.

The close family members of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali received condolences on Sunday in Tunisia’s suburb, as stated by a notice published by local La Presse newspaper.

There has been no official comment from Saudi Arabia’s media and authorities about his death.

Ben Ali, who died at 83, was the first autocrat to be ousted after the Arab Spring protests.

He reigned over the North African nations from 1987 until 2011 and was seen as a leader who opposed Islamist extremism. However, he was criticized by his people for suppressing the opposition and being a wall against democracy.

Under his rule, Tunisians suffered from unemployment and high prices, which led to awakening of the people demanding democracy.

During late 2010, a young trader in Sidi Bouzid, frustrated from the long-standing impoverishment set himself on fire in protest at humiliation by police.

The event sparked demonstrations and open retaliation against the ruler, which disrupted Tunisia and resulted in a deadly prosecution.

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali could not suppress the infuriated Tunisians for long, and on January 14, 2011 he fled the country for Saudi Arabia, where he breathe his last.

The ex-president’s spouse, Leila Trabesli, has so far led a comfortable and low-profile life in exile with daughters Nesrine and Halima and son Mohamed. They now seem to have little motivation to return to their country.

She has been charged for embezzlement, along with possession of guns, drugs and archaeologic artefacts.

Ben Ali’s death marked the departure of the second African leader in a month after Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe died on September 6.

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