Tunisian diplomat Bourguiba Jr. dies at 82

December 28, 2009

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TUNIS, Tunisia—Habib Bourguiba Jr., a former foreign minister and the only son of Tunisia's independence leader and first president, died Monday in Tunis at the age of 82, his family said.

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

Bourguiba Jr. 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, who took the first name Moufida when she converted to Islam.

Bourguiba Jr. served as foreign minister from 1964 to 1970, and as justice minister in 1970. He also was an ambassador to Washington D.C., Rome and Paris, and founded a Tunisian bank for economic development.

His 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 Bourguiba Jr.'s patriotism and accomplishments.

Bourguiba Jr. is survived by his wife, Neila Zouiten, and three children, Moez, Mahdi and Meriem.