Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1251, (18 - 24 June 2015)
Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Issue 1251, (18 - 24 June 2015)

Ahram Weekly

NEPAD Summit, without Al-Sisi

Women’s empowerment was the main topic discussed at the African Union Summit, but the absence of Egypt’s president also became a talking point, reports Reem Leila

Al-Ahram Weekly

On 13 June Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb travelled to Johannesburg, the capital of South Africa, to attend the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Summit on behalf of President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi.

The summit is an annual development conference where presidents of African countries meet to discuss the issues facing the continent. Al-Sisi was scheduled to attend but cancelled the trip due to what was officially described as his preoccupation with projects and developments in Egypt.

A few days ahead of the two-day summit, which opened on 14 June, the Turkish Anadolu news agency reported that the South African Muslim Lawyers Association (MLA) had filed a lawsuit against Al-Sisi. The MLA called on the South African authorities to arrest the Egyptian president upon his arrival “for crimes he committed against humanity.”

“The authorities ignored our request. They did not say yes or no,” MLA attorney Yousha Tayob told Anadolu, adding that he thought this was the main reason why Al-Sisi did not attend the summit.

The presidential spokesman denied the allegations. “The president had to stay in Egypt to follow up on the country’s important domestic affairs, especially because he has been on recent international trips to Germany and Hungary.”

“No one can even come close to the president,” said Egypt’s foreign minister, Sameh Shoukri. “South African lawyers, judges and the judicial system must have faith in the neutrality of our judiciary system, the same as we trust their system.

“What has been reported in the news is inaccurate. This news aims at affecting Egypt’s position among its African brothers, especially after the great improvement in the relations between Egypt and African countries. They do not want to see Egypt as a leading country.”

The main theme of the summit was “The Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063.” At the event, Mehleb delivered two speeches on behalf of Al-Sisi, who chairs the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC), as well as the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN).

Mehleb’s first address discussed the importance of women’s empowerment in Africa. “Women have a pivotal role in our African societies, therefore, our governments should give them the chance to improve,” said Mehleb.

The second speech presented a report on climate change in Egypt. “African countries are involved in important negotiations over climate change so as to reach a new agreement guaranteeing Africa’s welfare and its right to progress,” said Mehleb as he called on African countries to adopt a united stance and a common view on climate change policies.

“We in Egypt have several reports on the developments made by climate and environment committees over the past six months,” said Mehleb. The report included updates on funding and technology, the state of renewable energy production in Africa and climate change negotiations.

Mehleb also highlighted the “deeply-rooted Egyptian-African relations” and ways of enhancing them during the next phase. “We are keeping our word regarding facilitating African investment in Egypt. We will also support Egypt-Africa trade,” Mehleb said.

During the conference, the prime minister invited African presidents to attend the inaugural ceremony of the new branch of the Suez Canal opening in August. “African presidents have assured us of their attendance,” added Mehleb.

Al-Sisi addressed women’s issues at the African economic summit in Sharm El-Sheikh last week. “Women are our key partners who play an important role in accomplishing aspired levels of sustainable development in Africa,” said Al-Sisi.

Al-Sisi said all African governments should prepare a development plan according to which women are to be economically and politically empowered, especially the poor and the breadwinners. “Women play a very serious role in eradicating poverty and illiteracy,” added Al-Sisi.

During Mehleb’s visit to South Africa he met Egyptian expatriates on the sideline of the conference and urged them to improve Egypt’s image in the Southern African community. He listened to their problems and promised to solve them.

“The world has understood Egypt’s 30 June Revolution,” Mehleb said, referring to the nationwide protests that ousted Mohamed Morsi as president in the summer of 2013.

“They have realised that it happened according to the people’s will. Now we are working hard to fight bureaucracy and corruption.” Mehleb also said he hopes a new parliamentary election law will be passed soon. “I hope we have a newly elected parliament before the end of this year,” he said. (see p.10)

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