By TOM ODULA AND HAMZA HENDAWI*
A Kenyan diplomat has written to the dean of the Africa Diplomatic Corps to protest what she calls “uncivilized, undiplomatic, irresponsible, degrading and insulting behavior” by an Egyptian diplomat who is alleged to have called sub-Saharan Africans “slaves and dogs.”
In a letter dated May 29, Yvonne Khamati, chairwoman of the Africa Diplomatic Corp Technical Committee, said that the head of the Egyptian delegation made the remarks last week at the end of the United Nations Environment Assembly in Kenya.
The remarks were allegedly made in Arabic during consultation on the lack of quorum to pass resolutions affecting Gaza, Khamati said.
The assembly is the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment and makes resolutions to address critical environmental challenges facing the world.
Khamati is asking for an apology and said that Egypt should be stopped from representing Africa in any leadership position.
In response, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri, according to a statement issued in Cairo, has ordered an investigation into the incident. Information already available to the foreign ministry dismisses that such “language” was used by the Egyptian delegate, said the statement.
“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 statement said.
The ministry also directed 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.
Egypt under President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, in office since 2014, has worked to forge closer ties with sub-Saharan Africa, with Cairo offering training and technical know-how in several fields.