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FRANCE 24 (France), AL JAZEERA (Qatar), REUTERS

Worldcrunch

Tunisia's ruling Islamic Ennahda party has rejected Prime Minister Hamdi Jebali's proposal to dissolve the government in a bid to restore calm after the killing of opposition leader Chokri Belaid in Tunis.

Hours after Wednesday morning's assassination, which sent protesters onto the streets across Tunisia, Jebali had announced that the country’s government was to be dissolved and an interim non-political cabinet formed. But on Thursday morning, Jebali’s own Ennahda party rejected his proposal, France 24 reports.

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"The assassination that puts Tunisia in danger," reads Le Monde"s cover

"The prime minister did not ask the opinion of his party," Abdelhamid Jelassi, Ennahda's vice-president, told Reuters. "We in Ennahda believe Tunisia needs a political government now. We will continue discussions with others parties about forming a coalition government," he added, distinguishing the solution with Jebali’s call for a cabinet of non-partisan technocrats.

Meanwhile Ennahda’s leader Rachid Ghannouchi has denied opposition claims that the party was behind Chokri Belaid’s killing. The senior leader of the Democratic Patriotic party, whose assassination sparked the most violent protests in Tunisia since the uprising began two years ago, was a prominent secular opponent of Tunisia's moderate Islamist-led government, according to Al Jazeera.

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Coronavirus

Chinese Students' "Absurd" Protest Against COVID Lockdowns: Public Crawling

While street demonstrations have spread in China to protest the strict Zero-COVID regulations, some Chinese university students have taken up public acts of crawling to show what extended harsh lockdowns are doing to their mental state.

​Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling on a soccer pitch

Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling

Shuyue Chen

Since last Friday, the world has watched a wave of street protests have taken place across China as frustration against extended lockdowns reached a boiling point. But even before protesters took to the streets, Chinese university students had begun a public demonstration that challenges and shames the state's zero-COVID rules in a different way: public displays of crawling, as a kind of absurdist expression of their repressed anger under three years of strict pandemic control.

Xin’s heart was beating fast as her knees reached the ground. It was her first time joining the strange scene at the university sports field, so she put on her hat and face mask to cover her identity.

Kneeling down, with her forearms supporting her body from the ground, Xin started crawling with three other girls as a group, within a larger demonstration of other small groups. As they crawled on, she felt the sense of fear and embarrassment start to disappear. It was replaced by a liberating sense of joy, which had been absent in her life as a university student in lockdown for so long.

Yes, crawling in public has become a popular activity among Chinese university students recently. There have been posters and videos of "volunteer crawling" across universities in China. At first, it was for the sake of "fun." Xin, like many who participated, thought it was a "cult-like ritual" in the beginning, but she changed her mind. "You don't care about anything when crawling, not thinking about the reason why, what the consequences are. You just enjoy it."

The reality out there for Chinese university students has been grim. For Xin, her university started daily COVID-19 testing in November, and deliveries, including food, are banned. Apart from the school gate, all exits have been padlock sealed.

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