Belaid Assassination Followed by Political Crisis
In response to massive public outcry following yesterday’s assassination of prominent opposition leader, Chokri Belaid, Ennahda Prime Minister Hamdi Jebali announced that he would dismiss the Islamist-led coalition government—known as the Troika—in favor of a non-partisan technocratic government that would run the country until new elections were held. The plan was soon endorsed by Ennahda’s Troika coalition partner Ettakatol in a statement Thursday morning. However, less than 24 hours after Prime Minister Jebali proposed the transitional government, the Vice-President of Ennahda, Abdelhamid Jelassi, publicly disavowed the Prime Minister’s commitment to an apolitical transition and new elections stating that “the Prime Minister did not ask the opinion of his party” before making the proposal. Jelassi went on to say that, “we in Ennahda believe Tunisia needs a political government now.” And that Ennahda “will continue discussions with others parties about forming a coalition government.”
In response, four opposition groups, including Chokri Belaid’s Popular Front bloc, have announced that they are pulling out of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA). The parties call for the sacking of Ennahda Minister of Interior Ali Laraydeh stating that he knew of the threat to Belaid and yet did nothing. Beji Caid Essebsi, head of the leading opposition party, Nidaa Tounes, also state that, “The government is no longer capable of managing the affairs of the country, just like the NCA. They must resign in the interests of the people, of Tunisia and of stability.”
Protests continued throughout Tunisia on Thursday, with some calling explicitly for the dismissal of the Ministers of Interior and Justice, as well as the fall of the regime. In some areas, the protests have turned violent, so far leading to the death of one policeman in Tunis, as well as the regional offices of Ennahda being attacked in Tunis, Sfax, Siliana, Monastir, El Kef, Gafsa and Sidi Bouzid. In addition, Tunisia’s largest trade union UGTT has called for a nation-wide general strike to begin Friday, February 8.