4 Islamist suspects arrested in Tunisia over politician's murder

By TARAK GUIZANI AND GERD ROTH | Deutsche Presse-Agentur | Published: February 27, 2013

TUNIS, Tunisia -- Four members of an Islamist group were arrested for their alleged involvement in the assassination of an opposition politician, Tunisia's interior minister said Tuesday.

Interior Minister Ali Larayedh said the main suspect remains at large.

"We have arrested four people suspected in the affair who belong to the Salafist stream and who are aged between 24 and 34," said Larayedh, who is also prime minister designate.

He added that the main suspect in the assassination of Chokri Belaid, the secretary general of the Democratic Patriots party and one of the sharpest critics of the ruling Islamists, had been identified and a search to find him was under way.

Belaid's assassination outside his home in Tunis on February 6 triggered anti-government protests and forced Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali to resign.

Larayedh, who has been named to form a new government, said the suspects had visited the crime scene before the assassination.

He added that he could not give more details given that the investigation was ongoing.

Larayedh faces a tough task in balancing the desire of the hardliners within his Ennahda party to retain the levers of power, with the demands of the opposition for a nonpartisan administration to restore confidence in the state after Belaid's assassination.

To calm the tensions following the killing, Jebali proposed replacing the Ennahda-led coalition with a team of experts. But Ennahda rebuffed the proposal of its second-in-command, who then stepped down.


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