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Tunisia strikes deal on Libya border trade

AFP , Tuesday 17 Jan 2017
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Tunisian and Libyan parties on Tuesday struck a deal to resume vital trade through the Ras Jedir crosspoint after a week of unrest, a source close to the negotiations said.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the agreement was reached at a fresh talks between the two sides.

Lawmaker Ahmed Laamari, who took part in earlier negotiations on the issue, said separately that the deal should come into force on Sunday.

The terms of the accord were not immediately clear and the interior ministry was not available for comment.

Ras Jedir is the main crossing between western Libya and southeastern Tunisia, a region largely dependent on cross-border trade, both legal and illegal.

For around a week, social unrest has rocked the Tunisian border town of Ben Guerdane, with demonstrators demanding the free flow of trade through the frontier.

On Tuesday, protesters were still blocking the road from Ras Jedir to Ben Guerdane, where calm had returned after the clashes between demonstrators and the police.

A previous deal for a new customs system was signed in May 2016 after a previous wave of unrest over paralysed trade at the border, but was never implemented.

Tensions have been high in recent months, with a part of the population accusing the authorities of ignoring their plight.

Tunisian authorities have said the issue is thorny in view of the political chaos and fighting between militias in Libya.

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