The Tunisian Islamist party Ennahda has withdrawn from Tunisia's reform panel.

Party leader Rached Ghannouchi said that the reform panel --which was established in February after the popular revolt that removed president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali from power -- is not in fact representative of the Tunisian people.

Who are you to want to decide the essential laws for the people, Agence France-Presse reported the leader saying at a press conference to announce his withdrawal.

Ghannouchi said that the panel is acting in its own best interest, neglecting the sentiments of the Tunisian people.

The panel, led by Yadh Ben Achour, was established in February of this year, as a vehicle to pave the way for free, democratic elections after the January 14th ouster of Ben Ali, who was recently convicted of corruption at a trial in absentia. Other panel members were hand-picked by Ben Achour.

After 20-some years in exile, the Ennahda leader Ghannouchi returned to Tunis after Ben Ali's ouster. His party, previously banned under the old regime, was legalized in March.

A dispute over the election date, originally slated for July 24 but being pushed back by the panel, resulted in Ennahda's withdrawal from the reform panel today.

The committee is trying to take over the role of an elected parliamentary body, Reuters reported Ghannouchi saying at the same conference.

He also complained that the panel does not operate on the consensus of its members, which he believes would more accurately represent the will of the Tunisian people.

Ghannouchi announced that he will return to the panel if Ben Achour's camp reconsiders its modus operandi.

Ennahda means renaissance in Arabic. The group is inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.