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European envoy removed from Africa over ‘racist’ remark

Romania’s Foreign Ministry has recalled its ambassador to Kenya, Dragos Viorel Tigau, the country’s media reported over the weekend.

The diplomat has found himself at the center of a scandal after he made a remark in late April that sparked a protest from the African side, the reports said.

The ministry said it became aware of the scandal only this week as the ambassador had failed to inform his superiors about his own actions, in violation of existing procedure.

According to the Kenyan and Romanian media, Tigau had allegedly likened Africans to monkeys during a meeting with other Eastern European diplomats at a UN office in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.

“The African group has joined us,” the Romanian envoy allegedly said after seeing a black monkey in the vicinity of where the diplomatic meeting was taking place, news website reported.

  • Some of the meeting attendees found the remark insensitive and others found it offensive, the media outlet said, adding, however, that an African delegation itself had not been present at the scene at that time.
  • The African delegation, which included diplomats from several African nations, then demanded clarification over the incident from both the ambassador and the Kenyan Foreign Ministry. Efforts were also made to encourage the UN office in Nairobi to separately seek clarification over the alleged remark, the African media said.
  • Kenya’s Foreign Ministry Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau branded the remarks “intolerable and unacceptable in any era, let alone in the 21st century in Nairobi.”

In a post on Twitter, he also denounced as shameful what he called “attempts to cover up this disgrace.”

According to the Romanian Foreign Ministry, the ambassador then offered his apology over the incident, including in written form. The diplomat was then urgently called back to Bucharest by Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu. The ministry’s Diplomatic Control and Evaluation Corps (CCED) has launched an internal probe into the incident, the ministry said.

  • The Kenyan authorities also initiated an expulsion procedure against Tigau following Bucharest’s apology, Johannesburg-based journalist Karabo Letlhatlha told RT.

The Romanian ministry expressed its hope that “this isolated episode will not affect the … nature of the relationship between Romania and the countries of the African continent,” adding that partnership with African nations is an “important priority” for Bucharest.

The incident occurred just months after a German ambassador was expelled from Chad over an “impolite attitude.” AFP then reported that the envoy had allegedly been interfering in the African nation’s internal affairs and making divisive remarks. Berlin slammed Chad’s justification for the ambassador’s expulsion as “completely incomprehensible” and expelled the Chadian ambassador in response.

Source: RT