Opposition leader and outspoken government critic Chokri Belaid was shot dead yesterday, in what Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali called “an act of terrorism,” as the country grapples with growing political instability.
The murder prompted Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki to scrap a trip to Cairo where he was due to attend a summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and return home in the afternoon, one of his advisers, Ghassen Dridi, said.
The family of Belaid, who headed the opposition Democratic Patriots party and was a harsh critic of the Islamist-led government, accused the ruling an-Nahda party of being behind the murder.
“My brother was assassinated. I am desperate and depressed,” said Abdelmajid Belaid, brother of the slain leader.
“I accuse [an-Nahda leader] Rached Ghannouchi of assassinating my brother,” he said.
Chokri Belaid’s wife, speaking to private radio station Mosaique FM, said he was hit by two bullets as he left his home.
Jebali said Belaid was shot dead with three bullets fired from close range by a man wearing a traditional long garment with a pointed hood, and he promised to do everything possible to swiftly arrest the murderer.
More than 1,000 Tunisians protested outside the Interior Ministry against Belaid’s murder, shouting “Shame, shame Shokri died,” and “The government should fall.”
Additional reporting by Reuters