Rached Ghannouchi during the press conference Photo taken by Rabii Kalboussi
Rached Ghannouchi, leader of Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahdha party, stated yesterday that he intends to sue the British newspaper The Independent for publishing false information about his party.
In his article entitled, “We believe that the USA is the major player against Syria and the rest are its instruments,” Robert Fisk quoted Walid Muallem, foreign minister to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as saying that the Emir of Qatar, Hamad ben Khalifa Al Thani, issued orders to pay Ennahdha $150 million to help Ghannouchi’s party in the elections.
Ghannouchi denied the news during a press conference held yesterday and announced that he plans to sue The Independent for publishing inaccurate information.“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.
Ghannouchi further alleged that the reason fueling Muallem’s accusations was Tunisia’s support to the Syrian people and their revolution.
“Tunisia was the first Arab country to fire the Syrian ambassador. It also held the first ‘Friends of Syria’ conference…No wonder that these words come from a man that is involved with a regime that is killing its own people,” added Ghannouchi.
Fisk’s article was the first interview that Assad’s foreign minister gave to western journalists since the Syrian conflict began.
During the interview, Muallem said that the Emir of Qatar gave Ghannouchi $150 million to support Ennahdha during Tunisia’s October 2011 elections.
“At the same time, when I was waiting to enter a meeting [with the Emir of Qatar], there was the head of the Tunisian Ennahdha party, and the emir issued orders to pay Ennahda $150 million to help his party in the elections. Anyway, this was their business,” stated Muallem.
Tunisia’s Ennahdha party won the country’s first elections after former dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted from the country. Since the elections, Ennahdha has governed the country in coalition with other two center-left parties – the Congress for the Republic and Ettakatol.