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Tunisian President Divorces Wife

August 12, 1986

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) _ President-for-Life Habib Bourguiba, 83, has received a divorce from his wife ″for statements and positions in violation of the constitution,″ his office announced Monday.

It issued a statement saying the Tunis court that ruled on the divorce also barred Wassila Ammar, Bourguiba’s wife of 24 years, from using the title Majda, by which she was addressed as first lady.

The statement did not say how she had violated the consitution, but said she had acted ″without the authorization″ of the president.

It is known she had been engaged in a rivalry with Bourguiba’s 60-year-old niece, Saida Sassi, over influence with the nation’s political clans.

Bourguiba’s wife left the presidential palace several months ago, and did not attend Bourguiba’s birthday festivities Aug. 3.

At a congress of the ruling Destourian Party in June, Bourguiba swept aside traditional procedures and imposed his own nominations for the leadership. His nominations included people known to have the confidence of his niece, who has been running the presidential household.

On July 8, Bourguiba fired Premier Mohamed Mzali, who, according to the constitution, would have succeeded Bourguiba as president, and named the finance minister, Rachid Sfar, to replace him.

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