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Tunisia Dissolves Govt After Politician Killed
Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali has dissolved the government amid mass protests over the murder of opposition leader Chokri Belaid.
He said he would be forming a non-partisan administration to govern until fresh elections can be held after the failure of negotiations between parties on a cabinet reshuffle.
"I have decided to form a government of competent nationals without political affiliation, which will have a mandate limited to managing the affairs of the country until elections are held," Mr Jebali said in a televised address to the nation.
He said the ministers would not run for office in the next election.
The announcement came amid reports that a police officer had been killed in clashes between the security forces and protesters in the capital Tunis.
Thousands of people have taken to the streets following the murder of Mr Belaid.
The interior ministry said 46-year-old policeman Lotfi Alzaar died after sustaining a chest injury caused by rocks thrown as he attempted to disperse a group of protesters in central Tunis.
"These protesters were in the process of ransacking shops," it added.
Mr Belaid, who headed the opposition Democratic Patriots party and was a harsh critic of Tunisia's Islamist-led government, was shot dead outside his home.
The 48-year-old lawyer's family has accused the ruling Ennahda party of being behind the murder - allegations it denies.
It was the first assassination of a political leader in post-revolutionary Tunisia, and has bolstered fears that the country may face the same chaotic road as other Arab Spring nations transitioning to democracy.
Protesters outside the interior ministry chanted "the people want the fall of the regime".
The secular parties in government have been demanding that key ministries be assigned to independents, a move rejected by Ennahda hardliners, including party head Rached Ghannouchi.
Mr Jebali is considered a moderate within his party and is said to be supportive of the idea the justice and foreign affairs ministries could be allocated to non-political figures.
Planned fresh polls are unable to take place before the adoption of a new constitution - the drafting of which has also failed to make progress because of wrangling within the National Constituent Assembly.
It was tasked with the charge after the Tunisians overthrew long-ruling dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011.