Ben Ali who ruled the North African country from some 22 years, died in Saudi Arabia, where he had been living in exile since January 2011 when he was ousted by a revolution.
The former leader’s death comes just days after Tunisia held its second free presidential election.
“Ben Ali just died in Saudi Arabia,” Reuters news agency quotes family lawyer Mounir Ben Salha.
Initially hailed for bringing economic growth and Tourism to Tunisia, Ben Ali’s popularity dwindled over the years as he became more known for political intolerance.
The later stages of his rule were marred with public disapproval, which culminated in the popular uprising that forced him out of office.
The Tunisian revolution is believed to have inspired other uprisings in North Africa – now known as the Arab Spring. Egyptians and Libyans followed suit and rose up against their own leaders. In February 2011, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak stepped down, with Libya’s then president Muammar Gaddafi ousted and killed by rebels in October the same year.