Three audio recordings of telephone communications, revealed by the BBC, shed some light on Ben Ali’s last moments on 13 and 14 January 2011.
The first recording appears to be between the ousted president and the businessman and the co-owner of nessma TV, Tarak Ben Ammar. According to the exchanges, it would have taken place after the speech given by Ben Ali on the evening of January 13, 2011. He had tried to ease the tensions and reassure the people by launching the famous phrase “I understood you! “.
Here is the content:
– Hi Mr. Tarak!
– This is the beloved Zine! Folkets Zine!
– Today I was to speak the Tunisian dialect! Ha ha ha!
– It’s Ben Ali we’ve been waiting for! Son of the people!
– My speech was awful!
– Absolutely not ! Even Al Arabiya and France 24 welcomed your speech! This is a historic turnaround! You are popular! I told you to express yourself in the Tunisian dialect! It was wonderful!
– Ha ha ha!
– The world and the people support you!
The second recording concerns three telephone calls. The first is between the Minister of Defense, Ridha Griraand Ben Ali, while the latter was on a plane en route to Saudi Arabia:
– What happens Ridha ?
– Sir. President, a press release has just been published by the Presidency of the Republic, the Presidency of Parliament and the Presidency of the House of Councilors …
– What do they want?
– They announced that Mohamed Ghannouchi should take over …
– What do they want? Ridha ! What do they want?
– They announced that Mohamed Ghannouchi was to take over the interim presidency.
– What did they announce?
– Mohammad Ghannouchi take over the temporary!
– (inaudible word) I’ll be back in a few hours! I’ll be back in a few hours! It’s normal ! In the absence of the President, it is up to him to perform the temporary function! I’ll be back in a few hours!
– You are welcome, Mr President.
The second call was between Ben Ali and lobbyist Kamel Letaiefwhich he had not spoken to from 1992 to 10 January 2011.
– Sir Ridha GriraMinister of Defense, told me that the situation was under control.
– No no no ! There is a lot of skidding and the army is not enough, nis not enough!
– What ?
– Yes !
– Would you advise me to come back now?
– What ?
– Should I come back now?
– I’ll be back.
– What ?
– I’m on my way back. Would you recommend it to me?
– Things are not good!
As for the third recording, it took place between Ben Ali and the commander of the Tunisian Armed Forces, General Rachid Ammar:
– Hi ! Rashid?
– Yes, who isthis ?
– My general is the president, approxHow are you feeling?
– My greetings!
– Is the situation under control?
– Everything is going well ! The situation is under control!
– Listen to me Rashid!
– Do you advise me to come back now or later?
– I think it would be better to wait.
The third recording released by the BBC takes place on 15 January 2011 while Ben Ali was in Saudi Arabia. This is a discussion between the ousted president and the defense minister, Ridha Grira :
– Hi !
– Hi Ridha. What about the situation?
– There is still chaos! We do not control the street! There’s even the thesis of the coup and we do not know who would be responsible for it!
– It’s the Islamists! Are you in the Ministry of the Interior?
– No no no ! Yes, it’s definitely the Islamists!
– If it’s stable, I’ll fly now.
– Sir. Mr President, I would like to inform you that we can not guarantee your safety. I say it honestly to you as your son!
– Why ?
– The street is angry. I will not mislead you. You are free to make your choice!
– But it’s calming down, does it look like now?
– In the morning yes! Ads are currently being launched on Facebook! We are expecting a pretty serious day!
– No no.
– I will inform you and you are free to make your choice. I can guarantee your passage to the palace, but the street! I do not know anymore!
– What was I doing on the street? I served it!
– Mr President, I will inform you objectively about the situation, this does not are not explanations. It’s up to you to interpret!