Media Monitor

She Yelled at Fleeing President of Tunisia ``Get Into Plane You Fool``

Monday, February 21, 2011

Paris- (PanOrient News) The deposed Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was insulted by his wife Leila Trabelsi on the plane staircase in Carthage International Airport after he told her he did not want to flee Tunisia, a French magazine revealed.

The French magazine, Le Nouvel Observateur, said that the former president refused to board the plane which was waiting him and his family at the Carthage airport to take them to Saudi Arabia fleeing mass protests in the country. When he arrived at the plane accompanied by his wife, she screamed at him, «Shut up and get into the plane you fool! I spent my whole life paying the price of your stupidity and gross mistakes.»

The magazine quoted from an unnamed officer in the Tunisian Air Force who witnessed what happened, that Ben Ali (74 years), who ruled his country with an iron fist for 23 years until being deposed last month, acted inappropriately as a president who once enjoyed great authority in Tunisia.

The officer said that the former president Ben Ali stood on the runway, carrying a small bag kept swinging it, and pleaded to his wife, «I don't want to leave Tunisia, I want to stay here and die here.»

The commander of the presidential guard, a hated person in Tunisia according to the magazine, General Ali Siryany, who was standing beside Leila, went towards Ben Ali and pushed him, saying: «My God... go upstairs to the plane...» then uttered obscenities against Ben Ali, "Go up, O (...), so Ben Ali knuckled under and went into the plane to join his wife, his son Mohammed, his daughter Halima and her fiancé, and the family's butler and two Philippines servants.

Some sources close to Ben Ali's family mentioned that the president feared his wife and used to do whatever she said in both big and small issues, adding that the Tunisian people called Leila, «Lady Macbeth of Carthage». After Ben Ali was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009, he expressed his desire to step down, but his wife (53 years), a former hairdresser, rejected his wish.

Sources said that his wife wished Ben Ali stay in power until their son, Muhammad, despite his young age, would grow up to inherit the throne of Tunisia, or she herself run for the presidency.

The officer, who accompanied the former president, said that Ben Ali, during the flight, headed to the cockpit every ten minutes asking the captain: «After we arrive in Jeddah, you will take me with you when you turn back to Tunisia, won't you»?

The captain responded to him, «Of course. These are orders.» The captain, though, was saying what senior officials ordered him to say in case Ben Ali asked to return to Tunisia.

The end of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali reportedly brought joy to many ordinary people in Tunisia at the prospect of life without his wife and her rapacious family.

The clan of former first lady Leila Trabelsi , a one-time hairdresser who rose to become Tunisia's most influential woman, was widely despised as the ultimate symbol of corruption. Leila and her 10 siblings are said to have operated like a mafia, demanding a stake in businesses large and small, among other things.

Their control over the North African country's economy was vast. The Trabelsi and Ben Ali's own families were said to have a stake in main Tunisian business sectors such as banks and airlines, car dealerships, Internet providers, radio and television stations, industry and big retailers.

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