Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of the moderate Tunisian Islamist party – Ennahda, began a four day visit to Libya, starting yesterday, December 9th. The Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) extended an invitation to Ghannouchi to take part in the First National Congress for Libyan Reconciliation and Reconstruction held in Tripoli.
Zoubeir Chahoudi, spokesman of Ennahda Party, stated that Ghannouchi is expected to meet with NTC president Mustafa Abdeljali and Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim Al Keeb later today. The congress will be attended by factions from various regions within Libya, members of the NTC, and officials within the Libyan government. Additionally, a number of prominent guests have been invited to the conference, such as the head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (and president of the European Council for Fatwa and Research), Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi and the Deputy Prime Minister of Qatar, Khaled Al Attiya.
This visit comes at a delicate time in the history of modern Libya. Libyan authorities have thus far failed to convince armed rebels to return to their hometowns and hand over weapons to the NTC. Disorder within the country remains pervasive following the fall of the former regime, under the leadership of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, in October 2011.
Ghannouchi gave a 50-minute speech during the congress urging Libyans to relinquish old feuds and to work towards reconciliation between various factions within Libyan society. The visit was an occasion for Ghannouchi to help improve relations between Tunisians and Libyans following recent tensions along the Tunisian-Libyan border. During his speech, Ghannouchi recalled the strength of the cooperation between Tunisians and Libyans during the Libyan Revolution, when Tunisia hosted over one million Libyan refugees. Ghannouchi also highlighted the necessity of strengthening relations between Libya, Algeria and Tunisia.
Sheikh Al-Sadek Al-Ghariani, an eminent Muslim cleric (mufti of Libya), stated during the event that Libyan authorities should work towards strengthening national reconciliation between Libyans and learn from examples previously set in democratic transition and post-war reconciliation. He also stressed the necessity of bringing criminals to justice during this transitional period.