The Islamist party that dominates Tunisia's governing coalition has rejected the plan of its own prime minister to form a new government of technocrats without political affiliations as a response to public outrage over the assassination of a prominent opposition leader.
Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali announced his proposal late Wednesday on national television, as thousands of protesters clashed with police in the capital. He said the new government would have a mandate limited to managing the affairs of the country until elections are held as soon as possible.
But the second-in-command of the Ennahda party, Abdelhamid Jelassi, said Thursday that the party would not accept the plan. His public refusal highlights divisions within the group, which rules in an uneasy coalition with secularists, and threatens to exacerbate some of the worst turmoil Tunisia has seen since its revolution two years ago.
Supporters of the ruling Ennahda party shout slogans in support of the party during a demonstration in Tunis, Feb. 9, 2013.
A tear gas canister flies in the air as thousands of Tunisians gathered at el Jallez cemetery to attend the funeral of slain opposition leader Chokri Belaid, Feb. 8, 2013.
A Tunisian woman walks past burning cars during clashes with the police near the funeral of slain opposition leader Chokri Belaid, Feb. 8, 2013.
Riot police clash with protesters next to the cemetery where thousands of Tunisians gathered to attend the funeral of slain opposition leader Chokri Belaid, near Tunis, Feb. 8, 2013.
Mourners carry the coffin of opposition leader Chokri Belaid during his funeral procession, Tunis, Tunisia, Feb. 8, 2013.
A sticker with an image of the late opposition leader Chokri Belaid is seen as a woman mourns during his funeral procession, Tunis, Feb. 8, 2013.
Mourners carry the coffin of slain opposition leader Chokri Belaid during his funeral procession towards El-Jellaz cemetary, Tunis, Feb. 8, 2013.
Tunisians accompany the ambulance carrying the body of opposition leader Chokri Belaid, from his home to his father's home, Tunis, Feb. 7, 2013.
A woman cries over the coffin of opposition leader Chokri Belaid, in Tunis, Feb. 7, 2013.
Protesters gather on Tunis 'main avenue after a Tunisian opposition leader critical of the Islamist-led government was gunned down as he left home, Feb.6, 2013.
A protester gestures to police during clashes in Tunis, Feb. 6, 2013.
The body of Chokri Belaid, a prominent Tunisian opposition politician, is carried into an ambulance after he was shot, in Tunis Feb. 6, 2013.
Basma Chokri, the wife of assassinated prominent Tunisian opposition politician Chokri Belaid, mourns in Tunis Feb. 6, 2013.
Sporadic protests have erupted all over the country following the assassination of Chokri Belaid on Wednesday. Unknown assailants shot the fierce government critic and leading member of a leftist coalition several times as he was leaving his home in Tunis. So far, there have been no arrests.
To protest his murder, Belaid's Popular Front coalition has pulled out of the constituent assembly tasked with writing a new constitution, and the group is expected to call for a general strike.