Tunisian Gov’t Dissolved after Opposition Leader’s Killing
After Chokri Belaid, a critic of Tunisia’s Ennahda-led government, was shot and killed outside his home in Tunis on Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali dissolved the Cabinet and promised to assemble a new technocratic government. The government shakeup had been discussed in January, but had failed to materialize until now.
Belaid was a leader in the opposition coalition Popular Front and the general secretary of the Democratic Patriots Party. Around the country, thousands of protesters took to the streets in response, attacked Ennahda facilities, and called for the Islamists to “get out.” Human Rights Watch immediately called for an investigation into the assassination.
President Moncef Marzouki called the ”hateful assassination” a threat, but said that “we reject that message and we will continue to unmask the enemies of the revolution.” Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali said, “The murder of Belaid is a political assassination and the assassination of the Tunisian revolution.” Ennahda denied involvement, and its president, Rached Ghannouchi, blamed those seeking to derail Tunisia’s democratic transition after a 2011 uprising. He said, “Tunisia today is in the biggest political stalemate since the revolution. We should be quiet and not fall into a spiral of violence. We need unity more than ever.” He also blamed secular opponents for stirring up the protests. Belaid had reportedly received death threats, and on Saturday he had accused Ennahda allies of harassing a recent Democratic Patriots meeting.