An Egyptian delegation at a UN conference has caused a storm that threatens to cause a major rift within Africa unless the President can convince his colleagues otherwise at AU Summit due in Kigali, Rwanda.
At a closing session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi, Kenya on May 27, Egypt’s environment minister is alleged to have called the African delegates as “dogs and slaves”. To make matters worse, according to an official narration of what transpired, the Egyptians spoke in Arabic.
The Egyptian official at the centre of the controversy is current environment minister Dr. Khaled Mohamed Fahmy Abdel Aal.
Trouble arose after a resolution which Egypt and other Arab nations had pushed was not among the 24 adopted following the week long conference. The high level conference is convened by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
Other delegates tried in vein to convince the Egyptians not to block the adoption of the resolutions even when their preferences had not gone through. But the Egyptian minister could not take any of it, and was bold in his reaction.
Now, in a confidential letter addressed to the Kenyan Government as convener of the UNEA, members of the “African group” have set four conditions which MUST be fulfilled or else they never attend any session with Egypt. Among them is that Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi should address the matter at the AU Kigali Heads of State Summit due July 12-13.
In addition, the Egyptian Minister should resign as current holder of the rotating presidency of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN). “Africa has lost faith and trust in their leadership…,” says the protest note.
Perhaps the most serious of the demands is that Egypt must “at the highest level, apologise unreservedly to Africa for the utterances made by” its Minister.
“We feel that these uncivilised, racist, discriminatory and vindictive utterances do not advance the vision of the 2063 African agenda and the Pan-Africanism that was advocated by the founding fathers of the African Union,” concludes the letter
The confidential letter is signed by Yvonne Khamati, Kenya’s head of Chancery and deputy permanent representative of the Kenya Mission to the United Nations Office in Nairobi. She is also the chair of the Africa Diplomatic Corp Technical Committee.
The angry letter by diplomats representing Sub-Saharan Africa also describes the conduct of the Egyptian delegation as “undiplomatic, irresponsible, uncivilised and insulting behaviour”.