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.
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.