Impassioned Tunisian president denounces 'odious assassination'

Tunisia President Moncef Marzouki denounced "the odious assassination" of his friend and opposition leader Chokri Belaid in an impassioned speech Wednesday that brought tears to the eyes of Europe's politicians.

Speaking before the European Parliament in Strasbourg, a city where he spent many years in exile himself, Marzouki said hours after Belaid was shot dead that his murder would not tip Tunisia to unrest.

"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."

"We refuse this message and we will continue to unmask the enemies of the revolution," he said though Tunisia's path was "paved with hurdles," including "orchestrated verbal violence, burnt preachers" and the murder of Belaid.

Marzouki, who also spoke of his years spent in the city when in exile, brought teary-eyed European lawmakers across the political spectrum to their feet for a long round of applause.

After calling for a minute of silence in memory of the slain leader, European Parliament president Martin Schulz said: "Long live Tunisia, long live freedom, long live democracy."

"Tunisia will continue on its path," Marzouki said at a brief news conference held immediately after, pledging the governmenbt would not allow itself to be derailed by "destabilisation attempts."