Tunisia’s Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali has resigned after failing to reach agreement on forming a new government.
Hamadi Jebali had been trying to form a new coalition in response to the political crisis sparked by the killing of opposition leader Chokri Belaid.
He had said he would quit if his Islamist Ennahda party did not back his plan for a cabinet of technocrats.
Chokri Belaid’s assassination on 6 February provoked mass protests and resignations from Tunisia’s coalition government.
“I vowed that if my initiative did not succeed, I would resign and I have done so,” Hamadi Jebali told a news conference after meeting President Moncef Marzouki.
Describing his step as “a big disappointment”, he said he was standing down to “fulfill a promise made to the people.”
“Our people are disillusioned by the political class. We must restore confidence,” he stressed.
And he added: “The failure of my initiative does not mean the failure of Tunisia or the failure of the revolution,” in a reference to the popular unrest two years ago that ousted autocratic leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
Tunisia’s Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali has resigned after failing to reach agreement on forming a new government
Hamadi Jebali’s resignation comes despite comments by Ennahda’s leader Rached Ghannouchi on Monday that all parties involved in the coalition building talks had wanted the prime minister to remain in office.
Opposition supporters have blamed Ennahda for Mr Belaid’s assassination – an accusation the party denies.
Chokri Belaid’s killing was the first political assassination in Tunisia since the Arab Spring uprising in 2011.
Thousands of people have attended the funeral of Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid, who was killed on Wednesday by a gunman who fled on a motorcycle.
There were minor clashes as Chokri Belaid’s coffin was carried through Tunis, but the event was largely peaceful.
Sporadic protests and clashes have been reported all around Tunisia, and many workers are observing a general strike.
Unions say the Islamist-led government is to blame for the killing, an accusation it denies.
PM Hamadi Jebali has tried to defuse tension by calling for a non-partisan technocratic government. However, his governing Ennahda party has refused to accept this.
Some 3,000 people initially gathered outside the building in the Djebel Jelloud suburb of Tunis where Chokri Belaid’s flower-covered coffin lay.
Crowds chanted slogans accusing the government of murdering Chokri Belaid, 48.
“With our blood and our souls we will sacrifice ourselves for the martyr,” the mourners shouted.
Thousands more people then joined the coffin as it was taken on a funeral procession toward the nearby cemetery of el-Jellaz.
Many more people are expected to take to the streets of the capital after Friday prayers and ahead of the burial in the afternoon.
Hundreds of riot police have been deployed in Habib Bourguiba Avenue, the scene of earlier violence.
Police fired tear gas to break up youths attacking cars close to el-Jellaz cemetery, and also at protesters near the interior ministry.
Elsewhere in Tunis, many shops are shut and most public transport is not running.
This is the first general strike in 35 years.
A number of flights to and from Tunis-Carthage airport have been cancelled.
Thousands of people have attended the funeral of Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid, who was killed on Wednesday by a gunman who fled on a motorcycle
Tunisian state television said universities had been ordered to suspend lectures on Saturday and Sunday, while France said it would close its schools in Tunis.
In the city of Sidi Bouzid, some 10,000 people also gathered to mourn Chokri Belaid.
In the central town of Gafsa, tear gas was fired amid clashes between protesters and security forces, witnesses and local media said.
Tension had been simmering for many months between liberal, secular Tunisians and the Islamist-led government.
Critics say that Ennahda has allowed ultra-conservative Muslim groups to impose their will on a bastion of Arab secularism.
Chokri Belaid was the victim of the first political assassination in Tunisia since the Arab Spring uprising in 2011.
Thousands of people later rallied outside the interior ministry in Tunis, many chanting slogans urging the government to stand down and calling for a new revolution.
In the centre of the capital, a police officer was killed during clashes between police and opposition supporters.
Also on Thursday, demonstrators observing a symbolic funeral for Chokri Belaid outside the governor’s office in Gafsa clashed with police.
One policeman was said to be in a coma on Friday after being dragged from his car and beaten in the town, the AFP news agency reported.
In Sfax, crowds ransacked a number of shops on Thursday.
Tunisian media reported that more than a dozen Ennahda offices across the country were attacked overnight.
Earlier, four opposition groups – including Chokri Belaid’s Popular Front – announced that they were pulling out of the country’s constituent assembly in protest.
Chokri Belaid was a respected human rights lawyer and left-wing secular opponent of the government which took power after the overthrow of long-serving ruler Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.
Current President Moncef Marzouki said the assassination should not affect Tunisia’s revolution. He cut short a visit to France and cancelled a trip to Egypt to return home to deal with the crisis.
The assassination of Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid outside his home this morning has prompted violent protests in Tunisia.
Relatives say Chokri Belaid was shot in the neck and head on his way to work.
Chokri Belaid was a prominent secular opponent of the moderate Islamist-led government and his murder has sparked protests around the country, with police firing tear gas to disperse angry crowds.
Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki has condemned the killing and is cutting short a visit to France to return home.
He has also cancelled a scheduled appearance at a summit in Egypt to return home.
Tunisia is currently gripped by political crisis as talks on a long-awaited cabinet reshuffle to include a wider range of parties in a coalition led by the Ennahda party have broken down.
This is the first time a political leader has been assassinated since the Arab Spring uprising of January 2011, in a country where political assassinations are rare.
Speaking in front of the European Parliament on his visit to Strasbourg, President Moncef Marzouki said the murder of Chokri Belaid should not affect Tunisia’s revolution.
“There are many enemies of our peaceful revolution. And they’re determined to ensure it fails,” he said.
Referring to Chokri Belaid as a “long-standing friend”, he said his “hateful assassination” was a threat.
“This is a letter being sent to us that we will refuse to open. We reject that message and we will continue to unmask the enemies of the revolution,” said the president, who was to participate in the summit of the Organization of Islamic Co-operation in Cairo on Thursday and is instead returning home directly from Strasbourg.
The assassination of Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid outside his home this morning has prompted violent protests in Tunisia
According to AFP news agency, people torched the premises of the Ennahda party in the central town of Mezzouna, and ransacked the party’s offices in the mining town of Gafsa in protest at Chokri Belaid’s death.
In Tunis, police fired tear gas to disperse protesters who had gathered outside the interior ministry, it reports.
Crowds had been chanting they want a “second revolution”.
Police also fired tear gas at demonstrators in Sidi Bouzid, the town where the revolution that toppled Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali from the presidency began a little more than two years ago, AFP reports.
It is not known who is responsible for the attack on the politician.
Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali said his murder was an “act of terrorism” and promised to pursue all efforts to “immediately” arrest the murderer.
Chokri Belaid was the coordinator of the left-leaning Democratic Patriots party, part of a group of opposition parties which has been challenging the government since it came to power following the country’s first post-Arab Spring election in October 2011.
“This murder robs Tunisia of one of its most courageous and free voices,” French President Francois Hollande said in a statement.
On Saturday, Chokri Belaid accused “mercenaries” hired by the Ennahda party of carrying out an attack on a Democratic Patriots meeting.
The Paris-based France 24 TV station has reported that Chokri Belaid reportedly received recent death threats.
It said that he died in hospital after being shot by “three men in a black vehicle”.
“My brother was assassinated. I am desperate and depressed,” Chokri Belaid’s brother Abdelmajid Belaid told AFP.
Correspondents say that although Chokri Belaid’s party did not have a large share of the election vote, it spearheaded popular concern over the rising level of political violence in Tunisia.
Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid has been shot dead outside his home in the capital, Tunis, his brother and officials say.
They say that Chokri Belaid was shot in the neck and head on his way to work.
Chokri Belaid was the co-ordinator of the left-leaning Democratic Patriots party.
Tunisia is gripped by a political crisis as talks on a long-awaited cabinet reshuffle to include a wider range of parties in a coalition led by the Ennahda party have broken down.
“My brother was assassinated. I am desperate and depressed,” Chokri Belaid’s brother Abdelmajid Belaid told the AFP news agency.
It is not known who is responsible for the attack on the politician.
On Saturday Chokri Belaid accused “mercenaries” hired by the Ennahda party of carrying out an attack on a Democratic Patriots meeting.
Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid has been shot dead outside his home in the capital, Tunis