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Tunisia Calm as Bourguiba Is Replaced
[Home Edition]
Los Angeles Times (pre-1997 Fulltext) - Los Angeles, Calif.
Author: Meisler, Stanley
Date: Nov 8, 1987
Start Page: 16
Section: 1; Foreign Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

Citing a report by a medical commission that the octogenarian [Habib Bourguiba] was senile and ill, [Zine Abidine Ben Ali], appointed premier by Bourguiba only a month ago, announced to the nation that the politician who had led Tunisia to independence in 1956 was "absolutely incapable of assuming the duties of president of the republic."

Ben Ali solved that problem by quietly appointing a medical commission of prominent doctors to examine the health of Bourguiba, who is officially listed as 84 but may be a year or more older. The commission issued its report at 6 a.m. Saturday, and Ben Ali announced the removal of Bourguiba half an hour later.

Although there has long been speculation that any successor to Bourguiba would naturally try to move closer to more nationalist forces in the Arab world, Ben Ali, as minister of the interior, had been in the forefront of the Bourguiba regime's campaign to break up organizations of Muslim fundamentalists within Tunisia.

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