Ben Ali had no intention to resign: source

Security head lied about palace attack

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The ousted Tunisian former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali did not plan a resignation but his exile was the result of a lie fed to him by his head of security, a Tunisian security source speaking on condition of anonymity told AlArabiya.net.

According to the source, the head of presidential security General Ali Seryati told Ben Ali in an urgent meeting that the presidential palace will be attacked and that he better leave before this happens. Fearing for his life, Ben Ali left quickly.

This quick departure, the source added, meant that Ben Ali did not resign from his position as president because if that had been the case, he would have appeared on T.V. or left a written statement explaining the reasons for his resignation to the people.

No intention to resign

The source explained that Ben Ali’s T.V. appearance a day before his departure provides an ultimate proof that he had no intention to resign.

In his speech, Ben Ali expressed his sorrow for what the country is going through and apologized for use of violence to suppress demonstrations. He also promised to allow freedom of expression, and investigate corruption cases. He also declared that he would not run for presidency when his term expires after three years.

“All this indicates that he intended to stay in power and had no plans to resign or leave,” the source told AlArabiya.net.

According to the source, Ben Ali had to leave very quickly, and he didn’t have enough time to get all his family out of Tunis. Only his wife, two of his six children, his sister-in-law, and six of his entourage managed to fly with him.

“Ben Ali did not take any of his personal belongings and even boarded the plane without changing his clothes.”

This refutes earlier reports by the French newspaper Le Monde that Ben Ali’s wife, Laila Trabelsi, left Tunisia with 1,500 kilograms of gold from the country’s central bank. A source at the bank also denied the news.

If Ben Ali left in such a hurry and thought that his departure is temporary as Seryati convinced him, the source noted that it is therefore illogical that he transferred power to his Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi as the latter claimed.

The source explained that the plan of General Seryati, who was later arrested, was to usurp power himself after deceiving Ben Ali into thinking that his life was in danger.

“Most probably Ben Ali only realized what really happened after he boarded the plane or when he landed in Jeddah.”

Most probably Bin Ali only realized what really happened after he boarded the plane or when he landed in Jeddah

Tunisian security source to AlArabiya.net

Short stay in Saudi

According to several sources, Ben Ali’s stay in Saudi is expected to be short and most likely it will not take longer than the next summer.

Ben Ali is currently residing in Jeddah with his wife Laila, his six-year-old son Mohamed, his 18-year-old Halima, one of wife’s sisters, and several members of his entourage.

Rumor also has that Ben Ali’s daughter Nesreen, 25, went to Montreal, but the whereabouts of the rest of Ben Ali’s daughters from his ex-wife Naeima al-Kafy are still unknown.

(Translated from the Arabic by Sonia Farid)