Romania recalls Kenya ambassador over racist monkey slur

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Romania has recalled its ambassador to Kenya and apologised after he compared Africans to monkeys.

Dragos Tigau made the comments during a meeting at a UN building in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, on April 26. According to the AFP news agency, Mr Tigau said “the African group has joined us” when he saw a monkey outside a window.

Mr Tigau’s behaviour was first made public on Thursday by Kenyan foreign affairs official Kamau Macharia.

On Twitter Mr Macharia said he was left “appalled and disgusted” by the incident, and claimed that attempts were made to cover up Mr Tigau’s behaviour.

African diplomats on Friday demanded a public apology, according to Kenya’s Standard newspaper, insisting that a private apology was not enough.

On Saturday, Romania announced that it had only been informed of the incident this week and had now begun “a procedure to recall its ambassador”.

“We deeply regret this situation and offer our apologies to all those who have been affected,” the statement from Romania’s foreign affairs ministry read. “Any behaviours or comments of a racist nature are completely unacceptable,” it added, saying it hoped it would not affect its ties with African countries.

Romania mainly engages with African nations through its membership of the European Union, but it has bilateral trade deals with Egypt among others. The Kenyan government has not commented on the decision to recall Mr Tigau.

Romanian media have criticised his behaviour, and say this is not the first time the country has been embarrassed by insults dished out by diplomats.

In 2014, Romania’s ambassador to Armenia was recalled after making anti-Semitic jokes about Jewish bosses and questioning the morality of same-sex relationships.