Egypt's ministry of foreign affairs announced Tuesday that it was opening an investigation into claims that an Egyptian official insulted Sub-Saharan Africans by describing them as "dogs and slaves" during a United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) meeting held in Nairobi last week.
The ministry rejected what it described as attempts to cast doubt on Egypt's commitment to Africa and its defence of African causes.
"Under any circumstances, it is unacceptable to generalise and present weak accusations to the Egyptian state and the Egyptian people doubting their belonging to Africa and the ability of Egypt to present [on behalf of] African interests," an official statement foreign ministry statement read.
The statement added that the ministry "denies completely that such statements came from Egyptian representatives during the African group meeting at UNAE."
Egyptian foreign ministry's statement comes after the head of the African Diplomatic Corps Technical Committee Yvonne Khamati presented a memo on 29 May demanding that Egypt be banned from representing Africa in any official capacity after the head of the Egyptian delegation reportedly referred to Sub-Saharan Africans as "dogs and slaves" during the UNEA meeting.
According to Khamati, the Egyptian official allegedly used the epithet during consultation talks between Egypt, Morocco and other African delegations over a failed resolution to determine the enviromental impact of latest Israeli incursion into the Palestinian Gaza Strip, a resolution which Egypt endorsed.
During the meeting, Khatami told Kenyan Capital FM News on Sunday some members of the Kenyan delegation, who had previously served in Arab speaking countries and understood the language, were able to pick up on the epithet “dogs and slaves" reportedly used by the the Egyptian official who was upset with certain African delegations.
Khamati also demanded that Egypt resign as chairman of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), and that Egypt should no longer be allowed to negotiate on behalf of Africa.
In response to Khamati's demands, the Egyptian foreign ministry asked the Egyptian embassy in Kenya to send a memo to the African Ambassadors' Council in Nairobi expressing Cairo's dismay and accusing Khamati of overstepping her authority.
The Egyptian delegation at the UNEA meeting was headed by Ambassador Hisham Shaeer, the assistant foreign minister for environment affairs and sustainable development.
Environmental minister Khaled Fahmy has denied allegations that he was involved in the incident, stating that he did not travel to Nairobi for the meetings.
Khamati's memo went viral on social media in Egypt on Monday.