Egypt deserves apology for the content and tone of the memo written by a Kenyan diplomat accusing an Egyptian official of making racist remarks, the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
The statement came in response to the memorandum written by Yvonne Khamati, noting that an Egyptian official had allegedly made racist comments by referring to Africans as ”dogs and slaves” during the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA2) in Kenya.
Khamati criticised Egypt’s alleged misconduct and demanded an apology. She added that Egypt should be suspended from representing Africa in any leadership position.
The Kenyan diplomat told Daily News Egypt that the Egyptian official whom she claims made the racist comments is the assistant to the foreign minister for Environmental Affairs, ambassador Mohamed Hesham Shoeir.
Egypt rejected and condemned the allegations, denying the attendance of any Egyptian official during the meeting, adding that only two members were present at the beginning of the assembly but departed to Cairo one day before the closing meeting where Khamati claims the incident took place.
The Foreign Ministry’s statement revealed that the Assistant Foreign Minister for African Affairs, Mohamed Idris, met with African ambassadors to Cairo on Wednesday and told them that the Kenyan diplomat’s memo included mistakes and generalisations.
He asserted that the records of UNEA2 did not include the allegations of Khamati.
Similarly, Minster of Environment Khaled Fahmy explained that he did not attend the assembly as he had other commitments in Egypt. He said that due to his absence he sent Uganda’s environment minister, who also gave a speech on his behalf, to represent him during all assembly meetings.
The statement defended Egypt saying that the stated allegation would never be uttered by any Egyptian governmental official or Egyptian citizen against their African brothers who “share our issues and our defence of the interest of the African people”.
Earlier this week, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry requested that any evidence related to the allegation be submitted from the recording of the session in question. In his statement, he assured that an investigation into the matter would be undertaken.
The Egyptian Embassy in Kenya denounced the memorandum and rejected its language, saying that [we] “express our categorical rejection, disappointment, and dismay at the inappropriate content of the aforementioned memorandum”.
Two days ago, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry denied in an official statement that such comments were made. However, Shoukry ordered an investigation into the matter in order to find out exactly what happened during the session.
Egypt has been leading negotiations on African affairs during many recent occasions. In May, while Egypt headed the UN Security Council, Shoukry vowed to push African issues forward and put the spotlight on security challenges facing the international community.
Moreover, during the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) on climate change in Paris, Egypt advocated for adaptation needs rather than mitigation measures for all Africa, believing it is the most vulnerable for climate change effects with least contributions to worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.