An Egyptian deputy assistant minister has stirred controversy after being accused of calling African ministers “dogs and slaves” at the Friday session of the United Nations Environment Assembly held in Nairobi, Kenya.
However, both Egypt’s Foreign Ministry and the Egyptian Ministry of Environment denied the allegations, with the Environment Minister stating that the Egyptian delegation had already left the meeting at the time the incident reportedly happened.
In a memo to the Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps (ADC), Kenyan ambassador to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Chair of the ADC Technical Committee Yvonne Khamati alleged that, following “divisions” over a resolution on Gaza at the conference, the head of the Egyptian delegation “referred to Sub-Saharan Africa as dogs and slaves, in Arabic.”
The divisions reportedly evolved after the resolution on Gaza failed to pass due to procedural issues, specifically the fact that many delegations had departed at the time of voting and the session therefore did not have the minimum number of delegations needed to vote.
In her memo, Khamati went on to emphasize that “the African Union was founded on the premise of the principles of equality and non discrimination,” adding that “the utterances of Egypt…have no place in the unity of Africa. They are uncivilized, undiplomatic, degrading and insulting the fabric of pan-Africanism and undermine these principles.”
The Kenyan ambassador went on to recommend that Egypt be barred from taking any leadership position on Africa’s behalf, resign as the president of AMCEN and “unreservedly apologize.”
Although it remains unclear who the deputy minister is, Egyptian journalist Ashraf Amin claimed in a Facebook post that it was Ambassador Hisham Shoeir, a deputy assistant Minister for Foreign affairs.
Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement following the incident, saying Egypt “completely rejects attempts to doubt its sense of belonging to to Africa and its consistent defense of the continent’s interests.”
According to the statement, Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry “immediately” ordered an investigation into the incident, and emphasized that the information made available thus far “completely refute” that the Egyptian representative made the comments in question.