Tunisia-Libya border crossing reopened following strikes, protests

Tunisia-Libya border crossing reopened following strikes, protests
The border crossing between Tunisia and Libya is again open for business, allowing trade to pass after a two week closure that sparked protests.
2 min read
A two week closure sparked protests on the Tunisian side [AFP]

Tunisian and Libyan authorities agreed to lift a trade blockade between their main border crossing, in a deal that could ease tensions among angry protesters, officials said Saturday.

Officials reached the breakthrough to resume the passing of good through Ras Jedir late on Friday, local governor Tahar Matmati confirmed.

Discussions primarily focused on "the nature of products imported into Tunisia", Matmati said earlier this month, adding that Libya wanted a "single tax imposed on all products, and that requires certain administrative procedures".

Commercial traffic was blocked by Libyan border officials at the end of April in an attempt to prevent fuel being smuggled into the country from Tunisia.

Fuel from Tunisia is cheap in comparison.

Demonstrators protested and a strike was staged in Ben Guerdane - a Tunisian town which heavily depends on trade with Libya - against the closure of the border. The town also saw Islamic State raids earlier this year.

On Monday, police used tear gas to disperse a protest by hundreds of demonstrators.

The two countries share nearly 500 kilometres (310 miles) of border.

In recent months, Tunisia closed the Ras Jedir and Dehiba border crossings twice - for 15 days each time - in response to attacks thought to have originated in Libya.

Tunisia has also built a 200km (120 mile) system of trenches and sand mounds in an attempt to boost border security.

Thousands of Tunisians have joined the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, as well as in Libya, where years of instability has allowed the group to gain a foothold.