On August 28, an article published in the Independent alleged that Tunisia’s leading party headed by Sheikh Rashid Ghannouchi, the Ennahda Party, had been offered significant sums of money prior to the Tunisian elections. The article, written by veteran journalist Robert Fisk on the conflict in Syria, quoted an interview with the Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid Muallem, during which he alleged that the Emir of Qatar had generously funded the party.
Yesterday, 10 October, the paper was forced to retract the allegations made in its pages and issued an unqualified apology stating, “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.”
Ennahda came to power in the wake of last year’s Tunisian Revolution which saw the overthrow of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. It won the largest majority of the votes in what has been described as the first free and fair elections in the country’s history.