Update (07/02/13): The ruling moderate-Islamist party of Tunisia has announced that it will dissolve the government, and is to hold elections as soon as possible in a move to quell public anger at the incident reported below.
The prominent opposition politician Chokri Belaid was shot dead outside his home in Tunisia’s capital city Tunis on Wednesday.
Mr Belaid, a leading member of the secular opposition to Tunisia’s Islamist led government, was shot in the head and neck by an unknown assailant on his way to work.
President Moncey Marzouki, who cut short his visit to France and canceled a planned trip to Egypt upon hearing the news, described the murder as a blow to the Arab Spring which began in Tunisia. “The murder of Belaid is a political assassination and the assassination of the Tunisian revolution. By killing him they wanted to silence his voice,” he said.
Around one thousand protesters took to the streets outside the headquarters of the Interior Ministry.
Politically tensions are running high in Tunisia, after talks to include a wider range of parties in the coalition government led by the Ennahda party broke down recently. Last Saturday Mr Belaid acussed the Ennahda party of hiring “mercenaries” to attack a meeting of the Democratic Patriots – the left secular wing party of Mr Belaid. The Democratic Patriots party has led calls for the government to do something to tackle the increasing levels of political violence in Tunisia.
Although Tunisia has experience a relatively peaceful transition to democracy since its Arab Spring revolution, the country is increasingly under threat from al Qaeda and other Islamist militants, and political violence has surged.
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