Daniel Halliday
Sep 28 · Last update 5 mo. ago.

What legacy does Tunisian President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali leave behind?

Tunisian former President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali died on the 19th of September 2019 living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia after being ousted during the Tunisian Revolution, the initial uprising of the Arab Spring, ending Ben Ali’s 23 year long reign as President. Despite ending his career in exile, Ben Ali oversaw a fairly stable period of Tunisia’s history, the country having a high human development index, the only fully democratic state in the Arab World, and North Africa’s only “free state” according to Freedom House. So what is Ben Ali’s legacy? Why did his rule inspire the Arab Spring? And how has Tunisia remained so comparatively stable?
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He died wanted for a string of crimes
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He died wanted for a string of crimes

Whatever stability occurred during the reign of Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali he will undoubtedly be remembered for his troubled final years, and most spectacularly for the long list of crimes he was wanted and found guilty in absentia of. Shortly after fleeing the country the interim government issues an international arrest warrant for the ex-President accusing him of illegally taking money out of the country to acquire real estate and other assets overseas. Interpol issued an arrest warrant days later for Ben Ali, and his family, for similar charges, but Saudi Arabia refused all extradition requests. Ben Ali’s trial went ahead despite his absence, he was found guilty of unlawful possession of large amounts of foreign currency, jewellery, archaeological artefacts, drugs and weapons, and was sentenced to 35 years in prison. Ben Ali died a wanted man and that will be how he is remembered.

theguardian.com/world/2011/jun/20/ben-ali-sentenced-35-years-jail huffpost.com/entry/zine-el-abidine-ben-ali-former-tunisia-president-jail-sentence-_n_880696 smh.com.au/world/interpol-pursues-toppled-president-20110127-1a6vx.html

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Daniel Halliday
Sep 28