Ousted Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali is in "good health" and "will return to Tunisia", he wrote in a letter published by his lawyer in response to reports that he is in a coma.
Mounir Ben Salha posted the letter on Facebook on Wednesday, in it Ben Ali wrote: "There have been many statements in Tunisia lately about me and my health as well as a number of personal issues that concern me as the former president of the Tunisian Republic."
Ben Ali, who has been living in exile in Saudi Arabia since he was deposed, continued: "Though I was forced to leave my country, I wish dear Tunisia and its people safety, stability and prosperity. I have chosen to keep quiet about my reservations about many issues that may further disturb the situation of the country and add weight to its heavy burden, as dictated by my sense of responsibility as a statesman towards his homeland. However, I completely refuse to become the subject of political investment in favour of any party."
Ben Ali revealed that he was "in good health" and that he was surprised by some of the "news that said otherwise".
The former Tunisian president, who was deposed by Tunisians in the 2011 revolution, said in his message that he is following the situation in Tunisia, like any citizen. He insisted that Tunisians need "to work harder to protect the country and lift its deteriorating economic situation."
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali concluded his message saying: "Be sure that I will return to Tunisia, God willing, and I wish my fellow Tunisians a blessed Ramadan."
Tunisian media had reported that Ben Ali health had deteriorated, adding that "he went into a coma due to being in the later stages of cancer, and that he recommended not to be buried in Tunisia, allegedly saying: 'I will never hand my bones over to an ungrateful homeland.'"