Thousands of people are expected to take part in a general strike in Tunisia as the turmoil continues over the recent assassination of the opposition leader, Chokri Belaid.

The strike has been called by the powerful General Union of Tunisian Workers (GUTW), which has more than 550,000 members, to mark the funeral of Belaid. The showdown is being supported by scores of lawyers, judges and teachers who have already started their two-day strike in the capital Tunis.

The secular leader was shot dead by a lone gunman as he was leaving his house in Tunis, sparking widespread violent protests across the city.

Belaid's family blames the ruling Ennahda party for the assassination, a charge the government vehemently denies.

"This odious assassination of a political leader who I knew well and who was my friend... is a threat, it is a letter sent that will not be received," said Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki.

During the unrest, which has claimed at least one life so far, some protesters hurled petrol bombs and the police responded by firing tear gas shells.

The protesters forced Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali to announce the formation of a new administration with the help of technocrats. This has been opposed by his Ennahda party.

"We have rejected this proposal... the head of the government took the decision without consulting the (ruling) coalition or the Ennahda movement," said the party's parliamentary leader, Sahbi Atig.

The party's vice-president, Abdelhamid Jelassi, told Shems FM: "The prime minister did not ask the opinion of his party. We in Ennahda believe Tunisia needs a political government now. We will continue discussions with other parties about forming a coalition government."

The US has urged Tunisian leaders to quickly address the fallout of the assassination in order to bring normalcy to the smallest country in North Africa.