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Exiled Tunisian Islamist leader returns

01-31-2011 19:32 BJT

The leader of a long-banned Islamist Party has returned to Tunisia, ending two decades in exile. But Rachid Ghanouchi says people should not compare his return to that of Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini more than 30 years ago, claiming his views are more moderate.

Rachid Ghanouchi and about 70 other members of the Ennahdha, or Renaissance were greeted by thousands of supporters as they arrived at Tunis airport.

They flew home from Britain two weeks after Tunisia's long-term leader, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced from power by violent popular protests.

However with the former president forced to flee, Ennahdha has moved quickly to secure a place in the new political landscape taking shape in the North African country, taking part in demonstrations and meeting with the Prime Minister.

Rachid Ghanouchi said, "I am the elected President of Ennahdha. I was re-elected in the last internal conference in 2005 and I will remain in that position until the next conference which will take place soon. But I am not going to run for President of Tunisia nor as a minister nor as a parliamentarian."

Though the ban on Ennahda has not yet officially been lifted, the new interim government has been far more tolerant of it's existence.

Ghanouchi, 69, fled the country when Ben Ali came to power in 1987. In 1991, he was convicted, in absentia, to life imprisonment, along with the majority of the party leadership. Ennahda has always denied accusations from the establishment that they had tried to seize power by force.

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: CNTV.CN

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