Tunisia's ex-first lady to tell her "truth" in memoir

TUNIS Wed Apr 4, 2012 5:50pm EDT

Tunisia's First Lady Leila Ben Ali attends the opening of the 3rd Arab Women's Organization conference in Tunis October 28, 2010. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

Tunisia's First Lady Leila Ben Ali attends the opening of the 3rd Arab Women's Organization conference in Tunis October 28, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Zoubeir Souissi

TUNIS (Reuters) - Leila Ben Ali, the wife of Tunisia's ousted dictator, will publish a memoir of her life that is likely to stir controversy in the North African country where she was reviled by many as a latter-day Marie-Antoinette.

Her book, to be published in French under the title "Ma Verite" or "My Truth", appears on amazon.fr, the French language arm of amazon.com, as a forthcoming title with a publication date of May 24. It is priced at 16.10 euros.

Contacted by Reuters, the Paris-based publisher, Les Editions du Moment, was not immediately available for comment.

Tunisian news website Tunisia Live reported on Wednesday that the publisher had confirmed the book was "in the process of being prepared" but had not given details.

The book has already caused a stir on micro-blogging site Twitter, where some have labelled it "a book to boycott" in parody of the many books that were banned during Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali's 23-year stint as president.

Leila Ben Ali, nee Trabelsi, was a former hairdresser and her lavish lifestyle and clique of wealthy relatives were seen by many Tunisians as symbols of the corruption of the Ben Ali era.

Corruption, along with unemployment and a lack of freedom, were among the main complaints raised by protesters who ousted Ben Ali in 2011 in a popular revolution that sparked the Arab Spring uprisings.

Ben Ali and Leila fled Tunis for exile in Saudi Arabia as protests engulfed the capital on January 14, 2011.

In June, a Tunisian court found Ben Ali and his wife guilty of theft and of illegally possessing jewelry and large sums of cash and sentenced them in absentia to 35 years in jail each.

During Ben Ali's term in office, members of the Trabelsi family accumulated vast fortunes while his security forces routinely arrested anyone who dared dissent.

(Reporting by Lin Noueihed)

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