As Tunisia Simmers, PM Moves to Dissolve Govt.

Leading party's headquarters set on fire amid protests
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2013 1:03 AM CST
Tunisia Dissolves Government After Assassination
A riot police officer salutes the ambulance carrying the body of Chokri Belaid after he was shot to death in Tunis, Wednesday, Feb.6, 2013.   (AP Photo/Amine Landoulsi)

As Tunisia grapples with protests following the killing of an opposition leader, the prime minister has moved to dissolve the Islamist government, calling for new elections, Reuters reports. Technocrats would run the government in the meantime, says PM Hamadi Jebali—who will keep his job—citing a "failure of negotiations between parties on a Cabinet reshuffle." But his party has rejected the idea: "The prime minister did not ask the opinion of his party," said its vice president. "We in Ennahda believe Tunisia needs a political government now."

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in several cities yesterday, setting fire to the Tunis headquarters of the Ennahda party, which leads the country in a three-party coalition. An officer was reportedly killed as demonstrators fought police. Tensions are soaring between secular and Islamist groups as some worry new freedoms gained in the Arab Spring are already being trampled. "This is a black day in the history of modern Tunisia. Today we say to the Islamists: 'Get out.' Enough is enough," said a schoolteacher. (More Tunisia stories.)

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