Fri Feb 8th, 2013 at 04:33:29 AM EST
Tunisia braces for mass protests - Africa - Al Jazeera English
Tunisia faces a general strike with tens of thousands expected to take to the streets after the murder this week of a leftist opposition leader sparked violent clashes with police.
The General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT) called the strike to coincide with the funeral of Shokri Belaid, a lawyer and vocal critic of the ruling Ennahda party who was shot dead outside his home on Wednesday by a lone gunman.
The strike call from Tunisia's most powerful trade union comes after the murder triggered demonstrations in both the capital, Tunis, and the central mining region of Gafsa, amid a deepening political crisis.
After the murder, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali immediately announced a total government makeover with new ministers who would be technocrats, without party affiliation, tasked with running the country and preparing elections due later this year. According to Radio France this morning, Jebali (a "moderate", though Number Two of the Islamist party Ennahda), does not have the majority support of his own party for this change, that is hanging in the balance.
Accusations against Ennahda include that its radical wing blocks democratic process (by prolonging an already-existing crisis over the composition of the government, for example) while implicitly encouraging Salafist pressure through violence. The strong secular element of Tunisian society feels that it is up against a creeping takeover of democracy backed by terror tactics. Shokri Belaid was alleged to be first on a well-known list of opposition figures to be assassinated (with paradise promised to the killers).
Use this as an open thread to follow today's events.