General Strike in Tunisia following Chokri Belaid’s assassination
On 8 February, the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT) called a general strike today, on the funeral of Chokri Belaid.
The Tunisian secular opposition leader was assassinated by a masked gunman outside of his home in the capital Tunis. Belaid will be buried today, after weekly prayers in the Mediterranean country. According to Al Jazeera, as the protest intensifies, four Tunisian opposition groups, including the Popular Front, of which the Belaid's Democratic Patriots is a member, announced they were pulling out of the national assembly. Meanwhile, the embassy of France, announced it would close its schools in Tunis on Friday and Saturday over fears of escalating violence.
According to Huffington Post, the father of the assassinated politician Salah Belaid said, “It is the Ennahda and no one else that killed him…He told me, `Father, they are targeting me' ... most of the time he wasn't sleeping at his home.” However, Tunisia’s ruling Islamist party denied the accusations. Rached Gannouhi, Ennadha president, told Reuters, “Ennahda is completely innocent of the assassination of Belaid ... Is it possible that the ruling party could carry out this assassination when it would (only) disrupt investment and tourism?” Despite, the rejection, Nejib Chebbi, leader of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, openly blamed Interior Minister Ali Laraydeh, an Ennahda member, for Belaid’s murder and demanded his sacking “because he knew Belaid had been threatened and he did nothing.”
Yesterday, the Islamist party rejected a proposition by Hamadi Jebali, Tunisian Prime Minister, to dissolve the government and form a new non-partisan technocratic one, which would have run the country until parliamentary elections.
Tunisia’s Ambassador to Paris Adel Fekih criticised Ennahda rejection saying to France 24, “It’s dangerous…For the last few months [the government has been at] an impasse. I know that since June there have been a number of parties within the coalition who have asked for a cabinet reshuffle because the people’s needs weren’t being met. The Ennahda party has been determined to maintain their predominance in government, a position that they continue to hold today.”
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the assassination, saying that “Tunisia's democratic transition should not be derailed by acts of political violence.”