Egypt’s foreign ministry has promised to launch an investigation into assertions that one of its diplomats openly referred to sub-Saharan Africans as “slaves and dogs” during a United Nations summit held last week in Nairobi.
The hullabaloo comes as a setback for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at a time when his government is wooing closer political and business ties with countries within the continent.
This year Egypt returned to the Pan-African Parliament, the African Union’s legislative body, after a three-year absence. Cairo is looking for solutions to a number of regional disputes, including with Ethiopia over the impact of a hydropower dam on the Nile River.
In a formal complaint submitted on May 29 to the Africa Diplomatic Corps, Kenyan diplomat Yvonne Khamati said the comments constituted “uncivilised, undiplomatic, irresponsible, degrading and insulting behaviour”.
The comments were apparently made in Arabic during the United Nations Environment Assembly by an unidentified Egyptian diplomat during a debate on the lack of a consensus needed to pass resolutions on Gaza, Khamati said.
Egypt responded to the complaint on Wednesday by saying its foreign minister Sameh Shoukry had ordered “an immediate investigation to uncover the truth of what happened”, but the ministry stressed that it had seen no evidence that the remarks were made.
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