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Ousted Tunisian president hospitalized ahead of election

September 13, 2019
FILE - In this Oct.11, 2009 file photo, then Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali waves from his car as he arrives at campaign rally in Rades, outside Tunis. A lawyer for the former Tunisian president ousted in the 2011 Arab Spring says Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has been hospitalized in Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi, File)
FILE - In this Oct.11, 2009 file photo, then Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali waves from his car as he arrives at campaign rally in Rades, outside Tunis. A lawyer for the former Tunisian president ousted in the 2011 Arab Spring says Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has been hospitalized in Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi, File)

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — A lawyer for the former Tunisian president ousted in the 2011 Arab Spring says Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has been hospitalized in Saudi Arabia.

Mounir Ben Salha told Mosaique radio Thursday night that Ben Ali’s daughter called him to say the 83-year-old ex-president is “very sick” after years of treatment for prostate cancer. The lawyer said Ben Ali is in a hospital in Jeddah.

The lawyer’s announcement came as Tunisians prepare for a presidential election Sunday. It is Tunisia’s second democratic presidential election since the 2011 uprising over corruption, unemployment and repression pushed Ben Ali to flee.

Ben Ali has been convicted in absentia to several prison terms for corruption-related violations.

Given Tunisia’s economic troubles since Ben Ali’s ouster, some have called for his return. But he remains detested by others.

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