World News

Angry Tunisians Mourn Slain Opposition Leader

Tens of thousands of angry Tunisians turned out Friday at the funeral of assassinated secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid.

They chanted anti-Islamist slogans as they surged around an open army truck carrying Belaid's coffin, draped in a red-and-white Tunisian flag.

"Belaid, rest in peace, we will continue the struggle," they chanted, holding portraits of Belaid.

Some shouted slogans against Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of the ruling Islamist Ennahda party. "Ghannouchi, assassin, criminal," they said.

Belaid was shot to death at close range Wednesday as he left his Tunis home. His attacker fled on a motorcycle. Hours later, protests began across the country and have been continuing for days.



In response, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali this week announced a plan to dismiss the current government - a move the opposition welcomed.

But Mr. Jebali's deputy in the ruling Ennahda party has publicly rejected the plan. The rejection highlights divisions within the party.

Analysts say this could signal a political crisis as significant as the Tunisian protests that sparked the so-called Arab Spring two years ago.

Belaid's family and secularist supporters blame Ennahda for complicity in the assassination, but have offered no evidence. There has been no claim of responsibility.

Angry crowds swelled throughout Tunisia Friday. The major trade union authorized a general strike. Most businesses were shut and a spokesman for Tunis Air says the company has canceled all flights for the day.

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