Libya’s Tripoli-based interim President, who recently got the five star treatment from Washington who sent the CIA director to pose for photos with him, has raised the stakes with Libya’s relations with Tunisia, which in recent years haven’t been good.
Conflict-wracked Libya donated several dozen trucks of food supplies on January 17th to neighbouring Tunisia, the Libyan embassy said, months into an economic crisis that has seen repeated shortages of basic goods.
A convoy of 96 trucks carrying sugar, oil, flour and rice from Tripoli passed the Ras Jedir crossing on Tuesday morning, said Naim Achibi, spokesman for the Libyan embassy in Tunis.
“These provisions are a donation from the government of national unity (in Tripoli) to help Tunisia tackle the acute shortages” of these products, he said.
The food donation from Libya struck a chord among Tunisians who seemed to suddenly realise how deeply their economic situation has deteriorated.
The operation is set to bring a total of 170 truckloads of supplies from Tripoli, he added.
Tunisia is in the grip of a downturn that has spiralled since its 2011 uprising, itself sparked by economic woes.
The country has seen repeated shortages of basic goods, from coffee to petrol in recent months, along with a political crisis following President Kais Saied’s dramatic concentration of powers since July 2021.
The border region between Tunisia and Libya is a hub for a thriving cross-border trade, both legal and illicit.
Libya tumbled into a morass of violence with the 2011 revolt that toppled long-time ruler Muammar Gadhafi and today two rival governments are vying for power.
But despite the conflict, revenues from Africa’s biggest oil reserves make it relatively wealthy compared to its resource-poor neighbour.
Tunisia is also a major destination for Libyans seeking medical treatment.
The donation of food comes less than two months after Tripoli-based interim prime minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah visited Tunis in a move aimed at warming cool ties with Saied’s government.