By Houda Mzioudet.
Tripoli, 18 March 2014:
Libya and Egypt are to suspend entry visa requirements for . . .[restrict]residents who live either side of the border.
The deal was hammered out at a meeting on Saturday in the Egyptian town of Mersa Matruh to discuss cracking down on smuggling and illegal immigration. It brought together local military, immigration, customs, national security and intelligence officials from the Libyan and Egyptian border zones.
The plan is that, as of next week, residents from Tobruk and the surrounding area will be able to cross to Egypt on Sundays and Mondays without visas. Egyptians resident in the Mersa Matruh district will be able to enter Libya visaless on Wednesdays and Thursdays, local Tobruk reporter Mohamed Fezzani told the Libya Herald.
On other days, visas will be required.
A year ago, there was chaos at the Musaid border crossing after it was blockaded by members of the Awlad Ali tribe, resident on both sides of the frontier, following Libya’s decision that all Egyptians in future had to have visas to travel to the country. Previously members of the tribe had been able to travel freely back and forward without visas. In a bid to calm tensions, Libya and Egypt then agreed to open consulates in Mersa Matruh and Tobruk to ease visa applications but they never materialised.
Saturday’s Mersah Matruh meeting also looked at other possible measures to improve border security and ease the flow of traffic between both sides.
The removal of visa requirements for local residents is, according to Libyan news agency LANA, seen as a first stage in stablising the border area and thus improving security. [/restrict]