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Tunisia PM to dissolve govt. after protests over Belaid’s murder

A protester holds a poster as others hold candles during a demonstration outside the Tunisian Embassy in Paris on February 6, 2013, against the killing of prominent Tunisian opposition leader Shokri Belaid.

A protester holds a poster as others hold candles during a demonstration outside the Tunisian Embassy in Paris on February 6, 2013, against the killing of prominent Tunisian opposition leader Shokri Belaid.

Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali says he will dissolve the government after protests were held in the country over the assassination of leading opposition leader Shokri Belaid.

In a televised address on Wednesday, Jebali said that he “decided to form a government of competent nationals without political affiliation.”

He added that his new government will organize the elections “as soon as possible.”

“(Belaid’s) assassination has quickened my decision, for which I assume full responsibility before God and before our people,” he said.

Before Jebali’s reshuffle announcement, four Tunisian opposition parties quit the country’s Constituent Assembly, calling for a nationwide strike following the murder of the leading opposition leader.

This came after Belaid was shot dead after leaving his home in the capital earlier in the day.

Thousands of Tunisians also took to the streets across the North African country on Wednesday to condemn the murder of Belaid. Police also used tear gas to disperse the protesters.

A Tunisian policeman was killed in clashes between the security forces and protesters, the Interior Ministry said.

Soon after the death, Jebali condemned the assassination as “a criminal act, an act of terrorism not only against Belaid but against the whole of Tunisia.”

In January 2011, the country’s Western-backed dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, fled Tunisia to Saudi Arabia, after weeks of bloody protests over corruption, unemployment, and high food prices.

Tunisia’s first freely elected government was sworn in December 2011, a year after the start of a popular uprising that ended the 23-year authoritarian rule of Ben Ali.

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