Tunisia faces a general strike with tens of thousands expected to take to the streets after the murder this week of a leftist opposition leader sparked violent clashes with police, Al Jazeera reported.
The General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT) called the strike to coincide with the funeral of Shokri Belaid, a lawyer and vocal critic of the ruling Ennahda party who was shot dead outside his home on Wednesday by a lone gunman.
The strike call from Tunisia's most powerful trade union comes after the murder triggered demonstrations in both the capital, Tunis, and the central mining region of Gafsa, amid a deepening political crisis.
Belaid will be buried after weekly prayers in the Muslim country, where a long-established secular tradition has been countered by the rise of one of the region's most powerful Islamist parties.
"The growing rift between religious and secular parties is creating a political deadlock," Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Tunis, said. "All the pressing issues like the drafting of a new constitution and setting a final date for the elections are likely to be delayed until a deal is reached.
"People here are concerned in the absence of a swift solution to the political crisis here, the divide will grow and uncertainty will prevail."
The police and army have been put on alert to prevent any outbreaks of violence and to "deal with any troublemakers", the presidential spokesman Adnan Mancer announced late on Thursday.
The strike comes on the back of Ennahda rejecting Prime Minister Hamdi Jebali's proposal to dissolve the government and install a cabinet of technocrats in a bid to restore calm after Shokri's assassination.