Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (زين العابدين بن علي), (born 3 September 1936) has served as the President of Tunisia since 7 November 1987. He took power from President Habib Bourguiba by a bloodless coup, after serving briefly as Prime Minister.
Ben Ali was born in Hammam-Sousse. He was appointed to establish and manage the Defense Ministry's Military Security in 1964, which he ran until 1974. He was promoted to director-general of National Security at the Ministry of the Interior in 1977 after serving as military attaché to the Kingdom of Morocco. He returned from four years as Ambassador to Poland to become once again head of National Security at the Ministry of the Interior but this time with Cabinet rank. For his success in dealing with the political opponents and their threat to the regime, he was promoted to Minister of the Interior, and retained this position until he was appointed Prime Minister, though many Tunisians believe that he never completed high school.
Ben Ali was appointed Prime Minister by President Habib Bourguiba on 1 October 1987; in this position, he was the President's constitutional successor. Five weeks after becoming head of the government, he had President Bourguiba declared medically unfit for the duties of the office and assumed the presidency on 7 November 1987, in what was a medico-legal coup. The constitutional destitution of President Bourguiba was popular and legitimately based on Article 57, that allowed the procedure. Since then many Tunisians have become disillusioned by the lack of democracy in the country, the growth of the police and security services, and the uneven distribution of wealth.