Speaking exclusively to Aljazeera.net on Tuesday, Rashid al-Ghannushi of the Islamic Nahda party spoke of getting back into Tunisian society “in an open manner and within a legal context”.
“The movement intends to work in a political and social atmosphere where the spirit of participation and conciliation prevail along with consensus, rather than the fear of suppression.
“The movement is not seeking power in Tunisia in the short term,” he said.
Al-Ghannushi, who has been living in exile in Britain since 1989, said the movement has renounced secret work and has been working for reconciliation with the Tunisian political establishment since 1995.
“The movement intends to work in … the spirit of participation … rather than the fear of suppression”
The party, he added, intends to work for “strengthening the mechanisms of the civic society” such as trade unions, societies and mosques.
A top demand for the movement is not the adoption of Sharia law but greater personal freedom through the provision of employment opportunities for the unemployed and a social security programme.
The Nahda party leader has repeatedly expressed dismay over Tunisia’s continued victimisation of party members still living in the country and the destruction of Islamic institutions.
Describing the country as a repressive police state, he accused Tunis of misusing the “war on terror” to camouflage its repressive actions.
Al-Ghannushi has been the subject of repeated extradition requests by the Tunisian government of President Zain al-Abidin Bin Ali. The UK authorities have so far resisted all requests.