“The people want whoever killed Belaid,” clamored around three thousand protesters, who gathered Saturday in downtown Tunis to demand progress in the investigation into the assassination of opposition leader Chokri Belaid.
Images of Belaid dotted the crowd, which protested the delay of the probe into Belaid’s murder that many considered the fault of the current government, and in particular the ruling Ennahdha party.
The protest in Tunis’ main thoroughfare, Habib Bourguiba Avenue, comes on the heels of Hamadi Jebali’s resignation as prime minister and his replacement by former Interior Minister Ali Laarayedh Friday.
Laarayedh’s detractors blame him for what they perceive as growing insecurity in the country.
“We want more security,” said Abir, a protester holding a sign that asked, ‘Who killed Chokri Belaid?’
“How could [Belaid] have been killed outside his home in a place like Menzah 6,” she asked. “Where did all these arms come from?”
Arms trafficking is a concern that the government has addressed. Tunisian authorities seized on Wednesday a cache of arms and bladed weapons in a Tunis suburb, for example. Such news has been preceded by similar incidents over the past months.
Incoming Prime Minister Laarayedh has also faced criticism for previous instances of harsh crackdowns on protesters by security forces during his tenure as interior minister.
“It is not reasonable that he [Laarayedh] allowed birdshot to happen…” Abir said, referring to the controversial use of buckshot rounds by police during a series of protests in the northwestern governorate of Siliana at the end of November last year. Many protesters were severely injured as a result.
“And they put him in the place of prime minister.”
Saturday’s demonstration was called for by several separate Facebook events, organized by Tunisian citizens. According to Amine Ramadan, a young protester, demonstrators came from other major cities outside the capital Tunis to participate in Saturday’s rally.
No political party officially sponsored the gathering. Issam Chebbi, a leader in the opposition Al Joumhouri party, was spotted in the crowd though.