News24

Tunisia asks Saudis: Is Ben Ali dead?

2011-02-20 21:06

Tunis - Tunisia's government asked Saudi Arabia on Sunday whether its exiled former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali is dead.

The 74-year-old Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia on January 14, following massive popular uprising that ended his 23-year rule.

There has been speculation in recent days the exiled former president was ill or had possibly died.

Tunisia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement it had asked Saudi Arabia to provide information "as soon as possible" whether the ousted president's health has deteriorated or "the possibility of his death".

The departure of Ben Ali amid a popular uprising has fanned similar protests against autocratic leaders across North African and the wider Arab world.