Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Aboul-Gheit was voted in as the Arab League’s new Secretary-General despite strong objections from Qatar and Sudan.
Voting was reportedly delayed after Qatar’s strong reservations about Aboul-Gheit’s nomination. While it is unclear why Qatar rejected Aboul-Gheit’s nomination, one diplomatic source said that Qatar objected given Aboul-Gheit is a former Mubarak-era Minister and as a result of his strong stance against Islamist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egyptian-Qatari relations have been strained since the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013. Since Egypt’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, many leading figures from the banned group have found refuge in countries like Qatar and Turkey.
Meanwhile, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm, Sudan objected to always electing an Egyptian and recommended having the position rotate between countries. Sudan reportedly put forward its own candidate at the vote, but was quickly rebuked by other Arab countries.
Aboul-Gheit, 73, worked as an Ambassador in Rome and Macedonia before heading Egypt’s permanent delegation to the United Nations in 1999. Aboul-Gheit succeeded Ahmed Maher as Foreign Minister in July 2004, ending his term in March 2011 less than a month after the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak.
Since the end of his tenure as Foreign Minister, Aboul-Gheit remained out of the public eye, rarely making any public statements.
Aboul-Gheit is set to succeed El-Araby as Secretary-General of the Arab League in July 2016. El-Araby, who briefly succeeded Aboul-Gheit as Foreign Minister in 2011 before being appointed as Secretary-General of the Arab League, announced last month he would not be seeking a new term.
The Arab League was founded on 22 March 1945 with the goal of drawing closer “relations between member States and co-ordinate collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries.”
It has long been a tradition of the Arab League, which has 22 members, to appoint an Egyptian as Secretary-General. The only time a non-Egyptian was appointed Secretary-General of the Arab League was in 1979 after Egypt’s membership was suspended following its peace treaty with Israel.
Egypt’s membership was restored in 1989, with the headquarters of the Arab League returning to Cairo and a new Egyptian Secretary-General appointed in 1990.