Tunisia on edge as slain opposition leader is buried
Tunisian protestors clash with security forces outside the Interior Ministry in Tunis, on February 7, 2013 following a demonstration against the killing of opposition figure and human rights lawyer Chokri Belaid. AFP PHOTO / KHALILTunisia braced itself for a general strike on Friday after the country was thrown into political turmoil following the assassination of secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid.
Belaid was murdered Wednesday by masked gunmen outside of his home in the capital Tunis, in an act that sparked protests across Tunisia that left at least one person dead. The offices of the country’s ruling Islamist Ennahda party, which has been in power since October 2011 elections, were also torched during the unrest.
As tensions mounted, Tunisia’s Prime Minister Hamdi Jebali, himself a member of Ennahda, vowed to form a government of technocrats and called for fresh elections – a move his party strongly rejected on Thursday.
The same day, police fired teargas at demonstrators in central Tunis as they marched near the interior ministry on Habib Bourguiba Avenue, the centre of the 2011 uprising that toppled the country’s former dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
Meanwhile, lawyers, judges and some teachers began a two-day strike, as the influential UGTT trade union called for a general strike on Friday. The French embassy in Tunis also announced that its schools in the city would be closed on Friday and Saturday.
Further unrest is expected on Friday as thousands gather after noon prayers to pay their respects to the slain opposition leader, whose funeral in Tunis is due to start at 1pm GMT.
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