AU postpones Tunisia meeting following racist attacks

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The African Union has postponed a conference that was due to take place in Tunisia this month, after criticism over a government crackdown and racial attacks against sub-Saharan nationals.

An African Union spokeswoman said on Monday that the conference on fighting illicit financial flows in Africa scheduled for mid-March has been postponed.

The African Union issued a statement on February 24 urging Tunisia to “refrain from racialized hate speech that could bring people to harm”.

The AU Commission said it had called Tunisia’s representative for an urgent meeting to register “deep shock and concern at the form and substance” of the remarks on behalf of the continent-wide bloc.

Citizens of sub-Saharan African nations have been the targets of racial attacks after a speech by President Kais Saied blaming undocumented immigrants for a rise in violent crime.

He also claimed on February 21 that migration was a conspiracy to change Tunisia’s demographic composition. His speech was followed by dozens of arrests, drawing criticism from human rights activists.

Hundreds of people protested In Tunis to denounce Saied’s speech, accusing him of racist comments against refugees.

Ivory Coast, Mali and Guinea began carrying out repatriations of their citizens from Tunisia last week.

Meanwhile, Tunisia has rejected responsibility for the racial violence, saying it only sought to ensure “laws of the land are respected to avoid spreading chaos”.