Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Tariff sparks trouble on Tunisian border

Trouble broke out at the Ben Guerdane border area between Libya and Tunisia this month in protest at Libya's recent decision to impose a customs tariff of LD150 on every Tunisian car wishing to enter the Jamahiriya. Hundreds of Tunisian traders use the Ben Guerdane crossing every day, many of them going into Libya and returning to Tunisia the same day. This new tax has imposed a heavy financial burden on people already struggling to eke out a living in difficult circumstances.

A group of Tunisians expressed their fury at the new tariff by setting up a roadblock on the Ras Al-Jadir road, setting tyres alight and throwing stones at the security and police services and buses containing Libyan passengers. According to eyewitnesses there were clashes between protestors and the police, leading to dozens of arrests. Those detained were all released soon afterwards.

The Libyans closed the border temporarily, forcing those wishing to cross to smuggle themselves across at various points. It has since re-opened but Tunisia has upped its security in the area. This has not prevented further unrest. Trouble broke out again on 13th August and continued into the following morning. This issue looks set to fester.

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

© 2010 Menas Associates

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