A security source in Tunisia said that the toppled President, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, left the country promptly on Friday after a meeting in which he heard from the Presidential Guard chief, General Ali Alsriati, provided him with false information. According to this source, cited by Alarabiya, Ben Ali was convinced to leave his country immediately, under the pretext of an imminent attack aimed at the Presidential Palace. Fearing for his life, the 74 year old leader decided to leave.
The source revealed that Ben Ali did not resign from his post as President of the Republic, as rumored. The source mentioned that the ousted Tunisian President appeared on television the night before he left Tunis. In his speech, he declared his intention not to submit his candidacy for a new term in 2014. "This confirms his desire to continue, and not to resign and leave," the source added.
The source continued: "Since President Ben Ali left temporarily following the report by Gen. Alsriati it was reasonable to hand over the presidential authorities to the Prime Minister, Mohamed Ghannouchi. However, it seems that Ben Ali "probably did not understand in fact what happened until he arrived in Jeddah. Maybe in the plane, he discovered the plan of the presidential guard chief" noted the source.
He added that General Ali Alsriati, who was arrested by an army unit later, plotted a coup to seize power, taking advantage of the chaos that prevailed in the country.