TUNIS: A general strike gripped Tunis today as mourners gathered for the funeral of opposition politician Chokri Belaid, whose assassination has plunged Tunisia into a deep political crisis.
In chilly, showery weather, about 3,000 mourners waited outside the city’s Cultural Centre, where Belaid’s body lay before the funeral.
Tunisia, cradle of the Arab uprisings, is riven by tensions between dominant Islamists and their secular opponents, and by frustration at the lack of social and economic progress since President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted in January 2011.
Hundreds of anti-riot police deployed in Habib Bourguiba Avenue, a flashpoint for anti-government protests in the Tunisian capital.
Banks, factories and some shops were closed in response to a strike called by unions in protest at Wednesday’s killing of Belaid, but buses were running normally.
After Belaid’s assassination, Prime Minister Hamdi Jebali, an Islamist, said he would dissolve the government and form a non-partisan cabinet of technocrats to rule until elections could be held.