By Houda Mzioudet.
Tunis, 19 February 2015:
The Ras Jedir border crossing officially reopened today following an agreement between the local authorities in . . .[restrict]the border towns of Zuwara and Ben Guerdane allowing Tunisian traders to transport goods into Libya. However, traffic at the crossing is still almost non-existent as local residents in Ben Guerdane continue to block the road. They are now demanding the Tunisian authorities increase the region’s development budget and implement a number of infrastructure projects, a crisis committee member stated on Tunisian TV Watania 1 this evening.
It has also emerged that despite the announcement that Tunisia is suspending its TD 30 exit tax for all Maghreb citizens, this has not yet happened. The decision will apparently have to be ratified by the National Assembly which will could take some time.
Till then, Libya will maintain its entry tax on Tunisians – another cause for Ben Guerdane protests.
Meanwhile, Egypt is coordinating with Tunisia to repatriate Egyptians leaving Libya following warnings to them to go and fears of that they could be attacked or kidnapped. Egyptian ambassador to Tunisia, Ayman Sharifa, stated on Tunisian TV that Egyptians wishing to leave Libya via Tunisia could do so by land and air and that the Tunisian Interior Minister has issued instructions to facilitate their transit back to Egypt using the Ras Jedir crossing.
At midnight tonight, a plane will be leaving nearby Djerba Aiport for Cairo tonight, Watania 1 TV has reported. It is also reported that almost 1,400 Egyptians have crossed into Tunisia in the past three days. According to one who arrived at the border today, many others would like to go but will not leave their homes because they are afraid they will be seized by militias.
Tunisia remains on alert after Egyptian strikes on IS targets in Derna, while Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi stressed Tunisia’s commitment to Libya’s stability and its support of political solution to the Libyan conflict.