South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma announced on Thursday that his country was backing Egypt’s bid for a seat on the UN Security Council next year.
Egypt is hoping to win one of the non-permanent Security Council seats for the 2016-17 term.
In an interview with Egyptian state television the South African president also spoke about an increase in tensions between the two countries after the ouster of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
Zuma had arrived in Egypt on Wednesday for a two-day visit which included talks with Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
“What happened in Egypt on 30 June (2013) was clarified to us and we understood that the majority of the Egyptian people wanted to protect its culture and did not want the former regime which divided the society,” Zuma said, adding that he understood that most Egyptians demanded the army intervene to help them.
Morsi’s ouster in 2013 after mass protests against his rule is seen by many Egyptians, and by the current administration, as a popular revolution.
In July 2013, South Africa condemned what happened in Egypt in a strong worded statement as an “unconstitutional removal of the democratically elected president.”
Egypt’s membership in the African Union was suspended as a result of the ouster, which the organisation designated an “unconstitutional change in government.” The suspension was lifted last year.
Change in direction
“This visit and those statements of President Jacob Zuma reflect a significant change in South Africa’s policies towards Egypt,” Amany El-Taweel, an African affairs expert at the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies told Ahram Online.
“Already President El-Sisi’s administration has been in power for nearly a year and so it has become a reality to deal with,”she said. Egypt has also “restored its position back in the African Union as well its relations with the rest of African countries.”
El-Taweel argued that the strained relations between the countries following Morsi’s ouster was not a result of South Africa’s opposition to the move per se but instead reflects the rivalry between the two states over the non-permanent Security Council seat that will be vacant in 2016-2017.
“Last January the African Union announced its full support to Egypt’s bid to run for the seat and thus South Africa accepted it had lost the bid for the seat,” she said.
South Africa is due to host the African Union’s annual summit in June 2015 and Zuma extended an invitation to El-Sisi during his visit, Egypt’s state news agency MENA reported.
Source: Ahram Online & MENA