Foreign minister presses AU panel to reconsider membership freeze

Joel Gulhane
5 Min Read

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy urged the African Union’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) to reconsider its decision to freeze Egypt’s membership during a meeting with the African Union’s High Level Panel for Egypt in Cairo on Tuesday.

The panel, led by former Malian President Alpha Oumar Konaré, was formed following the suspension of Egypt from the AU Peace and Security Council in the days following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi. The union viewed the change of government in Egypt as “unconstitutional”, which goes against the bloc’s charter.

During the meeting Fahmy “reiterated the determination and commitment of the government to move forward in embodying the aspirations of the Egyptian people to build a modern democratic” state, according to a Tuesday ministry statement.

The minister called on the PSC to “turn the page on the past and look forward” in reconsidering the suspension of Egypt’s activities within the African Union.

The union will review its decision in “the coming weeks and months” Konaré, according to the ministry statement. The former Malian president, according to the foreign ministry, said the panel “knows the full extent of the pain and anger” in Egypt for the “continued absence from the activities of the African Union”.

The former prime minister of Djibouti Dileita Mohamed Dileita, who is also part of the panel, said “the current visit and important meetings” are helping to facilitate Egypt’s return to “exercising its leading role in the African Union and opening a new chapter in cooperation and return to the family of Africa,” according to the foreign ministry.

This is the panel’s third visit to Egypt since its formation, which is expected to last until Wednesday.

The panel also includes former President of Botswana Festus Gontebanye Mogae.

Following its second visit to Egypt, the panel prepared a report that was presented to the PSC in January. The panel “affirmed the correctness” of the initial decision to suspend Egypt’s activities in the union.

The delegation also met with Arab League Secretary General Nabil El-Araby on Tuesday afternoon.

The panel met with presidential candidates Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Hamdeen Sabahy on Monday to discuss developments in Egypt and its relationship with Africa. Both candidates expressed their desire to reactivate Egypt’s role in the African Union. Sabahy also told the panel that he would “welcome the presence of observers from the African Union” during the upcoming presidential elections.

Interim President Adly Mansour, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb and former head of the Constituent Assembly Amr Moussa have also hosted the panel since their arrival in Cairo on Sunday.

Konaré told Mehleb that he “wishes for success” for the interim government in Egypt’s transitional phase. He also condemned the recent wave of attacks targeting security installations and personnel in the Sinai Peninsula and other regions of the country.

The foreign ministry has repeatedly expressed its rejection of the decision to freeze Egypt’s membership to the African bloc. The ministry has placed much emphasis on relations with African nations since Morsi’s ouster. Following the suspension, diplomats were dispatched around Africa to deliver express Egypt’s opinion of the events that led to the ouster. Fahmy said in October that Egypt is “re-positioning” itself as an Arab country with African roots, a policy that has seen increased contact with African nations, and not just neighbouring countries.

Fahmy has himself visited several African nations including Algeria, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, TanzaniaBurundi, Uganda and Senegal, which the minister described as a “first step” into West Africa. He also took part in a ministerial tour of Nile Basin countries to discuss water security in October.

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Joel Gulhane is a journalist with an interest in Egyptian and regional politics. Follow him on Twitter @jgulhane