Saudi Arabia confirms arrival of former Tunisian president

January 15, 2011 11:04 am 

RIYADH, Jan. 15 — Saudi Arabia confirmed Saturday that Tunisia's ousted president and his family have arrived in the kingdom.

"We have welcomed in the Saudi kingdom the arrival of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his family," the office of King Abdullah said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

According to the statement, Ben Ali arrived in Saudi Arabia early Saturday morning after fleeing Tunisia Friday amidst waves of violent protests in the country.

Earlier media reports quoted Saudi officials as saying that the toppled president's plane landed in the Saudi port city of Jeddah.

The palace statement said the decision to welcome Ben Ali and his family to the country was made "out of concern for the exceptional circumstances facing the brotherly Tunisian people and in support of the security and stability of their country."

The statement hoped that the Tunisian people will "stand together to overcome this difficult period in their history."

The statement did not give further details on Ben Ali's entourage and the length of his stay in the country.

Ben Ali left Tunisia Friday afternoon following massive demonstrations requesting him to step down, despite his earlier announcement that he would not run for another term in 2014. Before his departure, Ben Ali signed a decree handing power to Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi.

Ghannouchi later announced on television that he had taken over the interim government until early elections in line with the constitution. (PNA/Xinhua) DCT/utb

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