Reversed by Jasmin's Revolution in January 2011, former Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali died in Saudi Arabia on Thursday. For more than 23 years, Ben Ali has led his country with an iron fist. But the news of his death leaves a shared feeling among Tunisians.
"It's like a neighbor that you do not like, but you get used to seeing," says a passer-by. On the avenue Bourguiba in Tunis, Thursday evening, between cafes that ranged their terraces and clubs opening their door, Tunisians were numerous, like Abdel, to admit having a twinge in the heart when learning of the death of Ben Ali. "It's true that he's a dictator, but I remember when he first came to power, he settled a lot of things economically."
A golden exile
Backed by a tree, Ahmed shakes his head: he has never regretted the departure of the dictator. "I think he got what he deserved, he lived well, he ended his life in a palace, a gilded prison," he says.
Ben Ali chose to be buried in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, where he lived since his exile. The funeral must take place on Friday. The former dictator had never returned to Tunisia since his flight in 2011.