European trade union chief expelled from Tunisia after joining protests
ETUC head Esther Lynch ‘made statements that blatantly interfered with Tunisian internal affairs,’ country’s president says.
Tunisia ordered the expulsion of European trade union chief Esther Lynch on Saturday after she participated in country-wide protests against the government organized by the country’s Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail (UGTT).
In a statement late Saturday, Tunisian President Kais Saied declared Lynch a “persona non grata,” giving her 24 hours to leave the country. She had “made statements that blatantly interfered with Tunisian internal affairs,” he said.
Protesters took to the streets on Saturday over Saied’s policies, including what they see as an attack on union rights.
As head of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), Lynch was in the Tunisian city of Sfax and gave a speech to demonstrators.
“The decision to deport Esther Lynch is a disgrace that does not honor Tunisia and will harm its interests,” UGTT spokesperson Sami Tahiri said in a post shared on the organization’s Facebook page. “Whoever advises the president on this decision, pushes him into conflict with the trade union movement in the world.”
He confirmed that Lynch would return to Europe on Sunday.