A moderate Islamist outfit banned by Tunisia's ousted former government has been granted legitimacy by the country's interim administration, reports said on Tuesday.

Following political recognition, Ennahda, will be able to contest polls scheduled to take place later this year. The withdrawal of the ban on Ennahda was one of the demands raised by protesters who brought down the unpopular government headed by former President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

Ennahda's supremo Rachid Ghannouchi returned to the country only last month after living in exile abroad for over 20 years. The 69-year old was greeted on his arrival by legions which showed the outfit's wide acceptability among the Tunisian people.

The Islamist outfit had finished second behind the ruling Central Democratic Rally (RCD) party winning about 17% of the total votes cast in Tunisian general elections of 1989.

However, a crackdown ordered by the Ben Ali government soon after the elections forced Ghannouchi to flee the country, while Ennahda was proscribed by authorities.

It was on the lines of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood that Ennahda was founded by Ghannouchi in 1981. But Ghannouchi has been quoted in media reports as saying that the Islamists had no plans to field a candidate for the post of President.

Over 200 people are believed to have died in the protests which brought about the demise of the Ben Ali government. UK-based rights group Amnesty international have called upon the country's interim government to investigate the deaths and bring those responsible to justice.

Even as the interim administration is tasked with the twin tasks of holding elections and restoring law and order, some of the senior figures including Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi and senior Minister and opposition leader Najib Chebbi have stepped down along with three other cabinet colleagues over the last couple of days.