Monday, 17 January 2011

Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali

This is the man responsible for bringing Tunisia to its knees,

Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was the second president of Tunisia holding office from November 7, 1987, until he was forced to step down on January 14 this year. Your own common sense should tell you that anyone who holds presidential office in a country for over 23 years has to be just a little bit dodgy!

 He assumed the Presidency in a bloodless coup d'état from then President Habib Bourguiba who was declared incompetent. Amazingly, Ben Ali was subsequently re-elected with enormous majorities at every subsequent election.

Several prominent human rights groups condemned his regime as authoritarian and undemocratic. Freedom of the press was strictly controlled. Despite slashing the poverty rate and presiding over a period of economic growth, he allowed unemployment to rise - especially amongst the young - and was increasing detatched from the concerns of the poor and small businesses. This lead to unrest over the six weeks before his downfall.

He does seem to have milked the system for everything he could. His second wife, Leila, has been dubbed the 'Imelda Marcos of the Arab World' for her excesses. She is reported to be very fond of opulent homes, flash cars and lots of money! Whilst he is hiding in Saudi, his younger ex-hairdresser wife is reported to be in Dubai - somewhere she is familiar with through many shopping trips!

Looters sick of the family's nepotism filmed themselves on mobile phones destroying the family's expensive cars at one of their villas and riding motorbikes across the manicured laws.

Their two daughters have fled to the Disneyland Hotel in Paris, where they are holed up in £300-a-night VIP suites. France, the former colonial power, is not amused and is looking to deport them having refused their father sanctuary. He is reported to have stashed away as much as £3.5 billion in French banks.

Hopefully, they will manage to repatriate some of it to the people he stole it from.

Nominated by : Ali Bongo