African diplomats are calling for a ban on Egypt’s representation of the continent after an Egyptian diplomat was accused of describing sub-Saharan Africans as slaves and dogs at a conference in Nairobi.
A Kenyan diplomat wrote to the dean of the Africa Diplomatic Corps in protest of what she described as “uncivilized, undiplomatic, irresponsible, degrading and insulting behavior” by an Egyptian diplomat who is alleged to have called sub-Saharan Africans “slaves and dogs.”
The comments had allegedly been made in the early hours of Saturday when tempers were high from a week long meeting about the environment at the United Nations Environment Assembly in Kenya.
The letter was dated May 29 and Yvonne Khamati, the chairwoman of the Africa Diplomatic Corp Technical Committee said the remarks had been allegedly made in Arabic during consultation on the lack of quorum to pass resolutions affecting Gaza.
The conference was meant to end on Friday but had extended into the early hours of the next morning and ministers were unable to pass resolutions, including on Gaza, over a lack of quorum. Khamati said;
“Arabic is an African language, and there were many of the diplomats there who therefore understood the comments he made,”
To that end, khamati is requesting an apology and insisting that Egypt should be stopped from representing Africa in any leadership position. The Egyptian Foreign minister, Sameh Shukri, in response, issued a statement in Cairo which called for investigation but insisted that; information already available to the foreign ministry dismisses that such “language” was used by the Egyptian delegate.
The statement said;
“It is unacceptable to fall into the trap of generalization and direct flimsy accusations against the state of Egypt, its people and its African identity as well as its ability to assume its responsibilities in championing African interests,”
The ministry is also harping on the Egyptian embassy in Nairobi to send a “sharply worded” memo to the Council of African Ambassadors in the Kenya capital to express Cairo’s indignation at the “excesses” committed by Khamati in her statement on Egypt. The Environment Minister Khaled Fahmy, who should have been the one to lead Egypt’s delegation, revealed in a statement Tuesday that he had not gone to Nairobi.
He also added that by the time of the closing ceremony, two of his advisers “were already on the return flight” and no Egyptian diplomat, government official or private citizen, would say such a thing. The incident is likely to add to tensions Egypt has had with its sub-Saharan neighbors.