18 Feb 2011

Toppled Tunisan president ill

8:31 pm on 18 February 2011

Deposed Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali is reported to be seriously ill in a Saudi hospital.

A family friend says Mr Ben Ali, who was deposed in a popular uprising last month, has suffered a stroke and is in a coma in hospital in Jeddah.

The 74-year-old flew to Saudi Arabia with his family after weeks of mass protests over unemployment and poverty, the BBC reports.

Tunisia's Le Quotidien newspaper also reported on Thursday that Mr Ben Ali had suffered a stroke.

The Tunisian uprising ended Mr Ben Ali's 23-year hold on power.

It also set off a wave of demonstrations throughout much of the world including in Egypt, where President Hosni Mubarak was forced to resign.