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Habib Bourguiba Jr., at age 82; son of Tunisia’s first president

Associated Press / December 30, 2009

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TUNIS - Habib Bourguiba Jr., a former foreign minister and the only son of Tunisia’s independence leader and first president, died yesterday in Tunis, his family said. He was 82.

The cause of death was not released, but his family said Mr. Bourguiba had been ailing for several months.

Mr. Bourguiba was the only son of President Habib Bourguiba, who set his Muslim North African homeland on a pro-Western course during three decades of authoritarian rule, and his French first wife, Mathilde Clemence Lorain.

She took the first name Moufida when she converted to Islam.

Mr. Bourguiba served as foreign minister from 1964 to 1970, and as justice minister in 1970.

He was also an ambassador to Washington, D.C., Rome, and Paris, and founded a Tunisian bank for economic development.

Mr. Bourguiba’s father, who was Tunisia’s president from 1957 until he was toppled in a bloodless palace coup in 1987, died in 2000.

In a statement, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali paid homage to Mr. Bourguiba’s patriotism and to his accomplishments.

Mr. Bourguiba leaves his wife, Neila Zouiten, and three children, Moez, Mahdi, and Meriem.