By Ajnadin Mustafa and Houda Mzioudet,
Tripoli/Tunis, 20 September 2015:
Claims dating back to the Ottoman period to property across the border in . . .[restrict]Tunisia are vexing residents in the western town of Wazen. A number of them have protested at the nearby border crossing demanding that the Libyan and Tunisian foreign ministries set up a joint committee to investigate and settle the issue.
The locals claim that the border fence being built by along the entire frontier with Libya will prevent them from accessing property that they claim their families have owned for generations. They say they should have unrestricted access to the land over the border..
According to Taoufik Gharib, a member of the Management Committee for Collective Land in the Tunisian border town of Dhehiba, the problem dates back to the early 20th century when the French and Italian colonial powers drew the border in the area. The Sheikh of Wazen refused to accept that the town should be on the Tunisian side, but lands belonging to locals were left east of the frontier. “The land owners’ rights have been maintained ever since, said Gharib, “but the ditch fence does not cross them,” he added.
He believed that the Wazen protestors were being manipulated into believing that they were going to lose their rights as a result of the ditch and fence built along the border.
Seddik Gweder, a civil society activist in Dhehiba said that the Libyan claims to own land on the Tunisian side of the border is disputed by local authorities in the town who say that the claimants have no legal documentation to prove it. This the Libyans refute. A row now appears to be brewing on the authenticity and validity of the documentation. [/restrict]