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  • faces general strike after Belaid assassination sparks crisis

Protests erupt, prompting fears that country could see the kind of political polarisation it has managed to avoid since Ben Ali overthrow

Tunisians protest outside the interior ministry in Tunis after Chokri Belaid's assassination
Tunisians protest outside the interior ministry in Tunis after Chokri Belaid's assassination. Photograph: HAMMI/SIPA / Rex Features/Rex Features

Tunisia is facing a general strike on Friday after angry protests triggered by the assassination of an opposition politician plunged the country into its biggest crisis since the revolution two years ago.

The UGTT, Tunisia's trade union federation, called the strike in protest at the murder of Chokri Belaid on Wednesday. It will be the first such strike since 1978 and there is now deep uncertainty and anxiety about how events will unfold.

Belaid, a secular, leftist human rights lawyer, was shot dead at close range on his way to work in an attack that was condemned by the government, blamed on extremists but claimed by nobody. The assailant fled on a motorbike pillion.

The killing has opened up the possibility that Tunisia could now see the kind of political polarisation that it has so far managed to avoid since the overthrow of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011.