Credible sources in Tunisia claim that the leader of the country’s Ennahda Party is on his way to Washington for what is being described as “an official visit”. Sheikh Rashid Ghannouchi has been banned from entering the United States for a number of years but since Ennahda won the most seats in Tunisia’s Constituent Assembly election his name has been removed from the “no-fly” list.
According to media commentator Lutfi Hidouri, although the full facts of the visit remain shrouded in mystery, “It is certain that Sheikh Rashid Ghannouchi is now on his way to Washington to meet with several American officials.” He said that information about the host for the visit has not been made public. This is the second visit to the United States by a senior member of Ennahda; it comes in the wake of the visit made by the movement’s Secretary-General and Prime Ministerial candidate Hamadi Jebali.
The US administration has been making positive overtures to Tunisia ever since the votes were counted, saying that Washington welcomes both the election and the results. Lutfi Hidouri noted that the American ambassador in Tunisia held a press conference in which he expressed these sentiments as well as his country’s intention to promote US tourism to Tunisia and encourage investors in the North African state. The US ambassador also took the opportunity to reject any comparison between Ennahda in Tunisia and the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in Palestine.