CAIRO: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said African countries are still suffering from “starvation, disease, and illiteracy” in his first international African speech at the African Union’s 23rd Ordinary Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
“The specter of starvation, disease, and illiteracy still looms over the African people’s lives,” Sisi said Thursday. “Instead of engaging in hard work and development, some African countries are engaged in bloody tribal conflicts … tearing apart our countries and losing our finest sons.”
Sisi called on African leaders “to overcome all these obstacles permanently.”
Sisi asserted Egypt’s relations with African countries are not only based on geographical and historical aspects but also on the mutual identity, future, and fate. Africa is threatened by a cross-border terrorist and Jihadist groups, adding that the leaders of African countries should unite to “preserve the dignity of our people and economies.”
Despite Egypt’s absence from African Union activities, its main concern are its issues, he said, referring to Egypt’s contribution in establishing the Organization of African Unity in 1963.
Sisi admonished the African Union when it froze Egypt’s membership: “My people suffered when they saw the African Union take a different position for their will.”
The summit took place a few days after Egypt’s membership in the AU was restored on June 17 after being suspended since the ousting of former President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013.
Sisi met with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Malabo, who was among the summit attendees.
Sisi also met with Senegalese President Macky Sall and President of Mauritania Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, MENA reported. Sisi also individually met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on the sidelines of the summit to discuss major bilateral issues, including the Renaissance Dam, which would reduce Egypt’s share of Nile River water.
Sisi is supposed to end his visit to Malabo Friday after visiting the projects of Arab Contractors, an Egyptian construction and contracting company. It is not clear if he will return to Egypt or head off to another country, Youm7 reported.
Sisi visited Algeria Wednesday in a brief visit with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and other officials. He then departed the same day to Malabo to attend the AU summit. Algeria would export natural gas to Egypt, according to news agencies.