Funeral for Tunisian politician

Mourners have gathered for the funeral of a prominent Tunisian politician. Shokri Belaid was a leading secular opponent of the Islamist-led government in the country.

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Protests in Tunisia after funeral of murdered politician

A protester flees from tear gas fired by riot police during clashes near the cemetery where Chokri Belaid was buried. Credit: REUTERS/Louafi Larbi
Soldiers help mourners carry the coffin of leader Chokri Belaid during his funeral procession towards the nearby cemetery of El-Jellaz. Credit: REUTERS/Louafi Larbi
Protesters clashed with riot police near the cemetery in the Jebel Jelloud district of Tunis. Credit: REUTERS/Louafi Larbi
Riot policemen run away from protesters during a demonstration near the Interior Ministry in Tunis. Credit: REUTERS/Anis Mili


More than 50,000 gather for funeral of Tunisian opposition leader

There have been reports that police and mourners clashed at the mass funeral of secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid, whose assassination has plunged Tunisia deeper into political crisis.

Mourners carry the coffin of slain opposition leader Chokri Belaid Credit: Reuters

Braving chilly rain, at least 50,000 people turned out to honour Belaid in his home district of Jebel al-Jaloud in the capital, chanting anti-Islamist and anti-government slogans.

A couple mourns during the funeral procession for the late secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid Credit: Reuters

Violence reportedly erupted near the cemetery as police fired teargas at demonstrators who threw stones and set cars ablaze. Police also used teargas against protesters near the Interior Ministry, a frequent flashpoint for clashes in the Tunisian capital.

Thousands take part in the funeral procession Credit: Reuters

Tunis braced for violence ahead of opposition leader's funeral

Tunisia is braced for further clashes today, with the capital shut down by a general strike and the army deployed ahead of the funeral of opposition leader, Chokri Belaid, which is expected to draw tens of thousands of mourners, and potentially many more.

Protesters gesture at policemen during a demonstration in Gafsa yesterday Credit: Reuters

Once the standard bearer in the region for its political consensus, Tunisia is embroiled in its worst crisis since the 2011 revolution that overthrew its long-ruling dictator and inspired the Arab Spring.

Egypt's national airline reportedly cancelled flights to Tunisia after staff at Tunis airport joined a general strike, airport sources said.

Officials at Cairo airport said EgyptAir had told them it cancelled two Friday flights. It was not immediately clear if other airlines were affected.

Tunisia to form technocrat government

Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali announced he will form a technocratic government - a government of experts rather than established politicians.

"After the failure of negotiations between parties on a cabinet reshuffle, I decided to form a small technocrat government," Jebali said in a speech.

He said the ministers would not run for office, but fresh elections would be held as soon as possible.

The move comes amid mass unrest in the country after today's assassination of opposition figure Chokri Belaid.


UK condemns 'barbaric' murder of Tunisian politician

The Foreign Office has responded to the assassination of Tunisian opposition figure Chokri Belaid, calling it "a cowardly and barbaric act":

I condemn the murder of Chokri Belaid in the strongest terms. This was a cowardly and barbaric act aimed at destabilising Tunisia’s democratic transition.

It is essential that this tragic killing does not inflame more violence, and I call upon all Tunisians to engage in dialogue and work together for the greater good of Tunisia.

Chokri Belaid was a lifelong defender of human rights and free speech.

The UK will continue to work with Tunisia to build a stable and democratic future where violence is not used to silence free speech or to threaten the proper functioning of democracy.

– Alistair Burt, Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East and North Africa
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