The besieged president of Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, has fled the country, according to various media reports, amidst the worst civil disturbances the North African country has witnessed in decades.

Several dozen demonstrators have been killed under a state of emergency. Protests have swept the country over the past few weeks, as growing discontent over state repression, high food prices and dwindling job opportunities have explodes across the small nation.

Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi said he will take office from the former President.

Ben Ali had previously dismissed his government and called for early elections, saying he would stand down in 2014. However, he appears to have now taken a more dramatic departure.

The ex-president reportedly boarded a flight out of Tunisia Friday evening local time. The military had closed off the airport a short time beforehand.

Ben Ali has ruled Tunisia since 1987.