Tunisia Islamist leader says to return from exile

Tunisia has had a strong secular repression since its independence from France in 1956.

Tunisia Islamist leader says to return from exile

The leader of a Tunisian Islamist movement said on Saturday he would return in the next few days from exile in London after Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who ran the country for 23 years, was forced out.

Tunisian authorities outlawed the Ennahda, or Renaissance, movement in the early 1990s after accusing it of a plot to overthrow secular rule. But the movement said it is non-violent and the victim of government repression.

"I am going to go back very soon," Rached Ghannouchi told Reuters in an telephone interview. "I haven't decided when yet, but possibly in the days to come."

"The reasons that forced me to leave do not exist any more. The dictatorship has fallen ... There is nothing to stop me returning to my country after 22 years of exile," he said.

Hundreds of Ennahda supporters were put on trial in the 1990s and many others fled abroad. As late as last month, a Tunisian court gave jail sentences to seven men found guilty of plotting to revive the movement.

But that approach appears to have changed after Ben Ali fled the country for Saudi Arabia and Mohamed Ghannouchi, asked by the interim president to form a new government, called on opposition figures abroad to come home.

Tunisia has had a strong secular repression since its independence from France in 1956.

Tunisia is planning to hold a new presidential election no later than two months from now. In the interim, a number of opposition figures who were harassed, marginalised and forced into exile under Ben Ali are expected to try to establish themselves as mainstream politicians.



Agencies

Last Mod: 16 Ocak 2011, 16:36
Add Comment