The leader of Tunisia's main Islamist movement has returned home after 22 years in exile following the ousting of President Ben Ali earlier this month.More than 1,000 people were at the main airport in Tunis to welcome Rachid Ghannounchi as he arrived from London. Mr Ghannouchi, 69, says his Ennahda party intends to work for the popular uprising that toppled Mr Ben Ali. Observers say his return is the most potent symbol yet of the change that has swept the country since then.
His return follows the interim government's announcement that media curbs would be lifted, banned political parties allowed to register and political prisoners amnestied.
Alongside his supporters, the Reuters news agency said, was a small group of secularists with banners reading: "No Islamism, no theocracy, no Sharia and no stupidity!"
Mr Ghannouchi fled Tunisia after a crackdown against Ennahda by President Ben Ali.
The movement came second to the ruling party in the 1989 elections, officially winning about 17% of the ballot. However allegations of fraud marred the vote and according to some estimates Ennahda's tally was as much as double the official figure.
Officially, Mr Ghannouchi is still subject to a life sentence imposed in his absence for allegedly plotting against the state.
However AFP news agency says that other convicted exiles have been able to return to Tunisia in recent days without hindrance.
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