Did Egyptian diplomat call Africans ‘dogs and slaves’?
Egypt has protested against accusations that the leader of its delegation to the recent United Nations environmental assembly in Nairobi used racist language.
The Egyptian Ambassador to Kenya, Mr Mahmoud Ali Talaat, said that complaints by the African diplomatic corps had been blown out of proportion to sully his country’s image.
“Our concern is that the letter with the accusations is not talking about a person but Egypt, in general. Egypt has always supported African states because we face the same challenges,” said Mr Talaat in a telephone interview.
On Sunday, African diplomats attached to the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) accused an Egyptian envoy of making racist remarks during the conference.
A note written by the Africa Diplomatic Corps Technical Committee demanded that Egypt be barred from representing the continent, claiming its head of delegation had referred to his colleagues as “dogs and slaves”.
Ms Yvonne Khamati, the Kenyan diplomat who chairs the committee, said in the letter that the head of delegation had used “undiplomatic, irresponsible, uncivilised and insulting language”.
On Tuesday, the Egyptian embassy in Nairobi wrote to the Dean of African Diplomatic Corps, Mr Kelebert Nkomani, promising to investigate the matter but protesting against the language in the memo.
“The note levels accusations at Egypt, a founding member of the OAU, that can be construed as an intentional effort to defame the people of an African state and legitimate authorities,” it said.
“Despite the fact that the allegations about the conduct of Egypt’s representative are unsubstantiated and lack evidence, directives have been issued for a full investigation,” the embassy wrote in the response that was copied to the Kenyan Foreign Ministry.
According to Ms Khamati’s letter, the quarrel began during discussions on a resolution on Gaza.
Divisions evolved when the resolution was not adopted due to lack of a quorum as most delegations had left.
A few African delegations consulted with Morocco, in its capacity as chair of the Arab League, and Egypt, with a view to dissuade them from nullifying resolutions that had already been adopted before the quorum issue was raised.”
“The head of the Egyptian delegation dismissed our concerns, informing us that they would speak in their sovereign capacity and referred to sub-Saharan Africa as dogs and slaves, in Arabic,” Ms Khamati said in her memo.
The head of delegation was not identified in the letter.