‘I have Black friends, family relations’ – Tunisia president disclaims racist views

Tunisian president Kais Saeid met with his Guinea-Bissau counterpart, president Umar Sissoco Embalo in Tunis, when the latter made a diplomatic stop to clarify recent racist remarks by his host.

Embalo posted on Twitter that his visit was in his capacity as president of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

According to him, the Tunisian leader who had been under fire following reports that he made anti-Black Africa comments pleaded innocent to the viral accusations.

The Tunisian leader said in a video posted on Twitter that he is not racist because he has “African friends”, adding that members of his family “are married to Africans.”

On his part, the visiting president wrote on Twitter: “As President of ECOWAS, I visited President Kais Saied to inquire about the situation of sub-Saharan Africans in Tunisia.

“Referring to the distortion of his remarks, he assured of his belief in the African values of union, welcome and respect and to preserve them,” Embalo wrote in a tweet accompanied by videos and photos of his visit.

Saied alleged that undocumented immigration from sub-Saharan African countries was aimed at changing Tunisia’s demographic composition, drawing criticism from human rights activists.

His comments during a meeting of the National Security Council followed the arrests of dozens of migrants this month in a crackdown.

“The undeclared goal of the successive waves of illegal immigration is to consider Tunisia a purely African country that has no affiliation to the Arab and Islamic nations,” Saied said, adding that the influx of irregular migrants must quickly be ended.

A number of West African countries subsequently flew their stranded national back whiles the African Union issued a strongly worded condemnation of his reported remarks.