The British newspaper The Independent published an apology yesterday to Rached Ghannouchi, leader of Tunisia’s Ennahdha party for an article it published on August 28.
The article, written by Robert Fisk, quoted Walid Muallem, the Syrian Foreign Minister under President Bashar al-Assad, as saying that the Emir of Qatar, Hamad ben Khalifa Al Thani, issued orders to pay Ennahdha US$150 million to help Ghannouchi’s party in the elections.
“We wish to make it clear that Mr Ghannouchi and his party have not accepted any donation from a foreign state in breach of Tunisian party funding laws. We apologise to Mr Ghannouchi,” said the statement.
The article, entitled, “We believe that the USA is the major player against Syria and the rest are its instruments,” was the first interview that Assad’s Foreign Minister gave to western journalists since the Syrian conflict began.
On August 30, Ghannouchi denied the accusation and threatened to take legal action against the paper.
“Robert Fisk is a respectable man, but in his article he published false news. These are serious accusations, and we are going to sue the newspaper for publishing that,” said the Ennahdha leader.
Tunisia’s Ennahdha party won the country’s first elections in October 2011, after former dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted from the country in January of the same year. Since the elections, Ennahdha has governed the country in coalition with two center-left parties – the Congress for the Republic and Ettakatol.