CAIRO: Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab issued a decision Tuesday to establish the “Africa’s Unity” ministerial committee to promote and improve bilateral relations between Egypt and African states, Youm7 reported.
“The committee aims at improving, developing and deepening Egypt’s bilateral relations with its neighbors in the African continent. The committee comprises ministers of investment, agriculture, culture, trade and industry, transportation, along with representatives from the defense ministry and the homeland security,” according to a Cabinet statement on Monday.
The committee will be headed by Mahlab and is set to convene monthly.
Egypt faces a number of important foreign policy issues in Africa including the ongoing negotiation with Ethiopia over the construction of the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam and targeting of Egyptian expats by militant groups in neighboring countries.
Egypt’s relations with Africa was hit a low point following several “offensive suggestions” made at a meeting between former President Mohamed Morsi and figures from across the political spectrum held in June 2013 to discuss the Ethiopia dam crisis. Unaware that the event was being aired on live television, participants voiced support for possible use of force to prevent dam construction, which rang alarm bells in a number of African capitals.
During the meeting, politician Ayman Nour suggested that “Egypt spreads false rumors about a airstrike on the Ethiopian dam to yield results on the diplomatic path.”
Head of Nour Party Younis Makhioun suggested that Egypt back Ethiopian rebel movements against the current government, saying that Egypt must start “using them as a bargaining chip against the Ethiopian government,” according to the state-run Al Ahram.
After a brief suspension from the African Union (AU) following the military-backed ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, Egypt’s membership was reinstated in June 2014.