Tunisia in turmoil after assassination

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Tunisia in turmoil after assassination

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The assassination of an opposition leader has thrown Tunisia into the grip of its worst political crisis since the 2011 revolution.

Chokri Belaid was shot as he left home for work on February 6 by a gunman who fled on a motorcycle.

So far no-one has claimed responsibility for the killing but that has not stopped many people throwing accusations at ruling Islamist party Ennahda, of whom Belaid was a staunch opponent.

Protests swept the north African state on Thursday, in which authorities and demonstrators clashed violently. Police reportedly used tear gas to scatter demonstrators near the interior ministry in Tunis.

Union leader Hussein Abassi said he had received death threats after calling the country’s first general strike in 34 years.

Earlier, the ruling Islamists rejected the Prime Minister’s plan to form a new technocrat government, but Popular Front spokesman Hamma Hammami said their position was untenable:

“This government does not have a role to play in our country any more. We have to ask for their resignation and for the creation of a new government that will drive the country through the rest of the transitional period,” Hammami said.

Wary of further violence, many shops in Tunis closed early on February 7, and Tunisia’s old colonial power, France, said it would close its schools in the capital on February 8 and 9.