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Questions remain as Tunisia marks year since Belaid murder

© afp

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-02-06

Tunisians on Thursday marked one year since the assassination of Chokri Belaid, with the opposition leader's family calling for a new inquiry despite a government announcement this week that his killer had been fatally shot by security forces.

Belaid's assassination triggered massive anti-government protests and ignited a political crisis that is only now easing following the adoption of a new constitution late in January.

On February 6, 2013, Tunisians were stunned by death of the 48-year-old lawyer and leftist politician who had been a fierce critic of Ennahda, the Islamist party that rose to power after the Arab Spring toppled long-time ruler Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

Belaid was gunned down at close range outside his house, with the authorities blaming jihadists from Ansar al-Sharia, a Salafist group allegedly linked to al Qaeda.

Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou told reporters on Tuesday that Belaid's alleged killer, Kamel Gadhgadhi, had been killed by security forces in a shootout along with six other "terrorists", although Belaid's family and others remain unconvinced.

Jeddou called it "the best present that we could give Tunisians" on the anniversary of Belaid's murder.

But as some 200 people gathered at the site where he was murdered to commemorate the anniversary, a large poster posed the question that is still troubling many Tunisians: "Who killed Chokri Belaid?"

Several hundred people later attended a candlelit vigil and a concert on Habib Bourguiba Avenue in central Tunis, with stalls selling badges and pictures of the slain politician.

'There are other suspects'

Belaid's death was the first of two political assassinations last year that fuelled rising unrest and eventually forced premier Ali Larayedh of Ennahda, a moderate Islamist movement, to step down last month under a deal to end the crisis.

The family of the murdered politician, who at the time blamed his death on the Ennahda party, have rejected Jedou's assertions.

"The truth has not been revealed," Belaid's widow, Basma Khalfaoui, told AFP at Thursday's commemoration.

She said that while Gadhgadhi may have pulled the trigger, "there are other suspects", adding: "I hope they won't be killed too."

Belaid's brother, Abdelmajid, agreed.

"We didn't want Gadhgadhi to be killed and we are certainly not celebrating his death... We wanted him to be fairly tried," he said.

"We want to know the whole truth. Gadhgadhi was not alone. There are other parties implicated and we hope they will be captured so that the truth is revealed," he added.

A demonstration is planned at Belaid's grave on Saturday before a march into the city centre to mark the anniversary of his funeral, which was attended by tens of thousands and morphed into a mass anti-Ennahda rally.

A ceremony is planned for Friday at the national assembly in Tunis to celebrate the adoption of the new constitution, with French President François Hollande and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy on the guest list.

Other foreign leaders expected to attend include the presidents of Chad, Gabon, Guinea, Mauritania and Lebanon.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)


Date created : 2014-02-06


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