By Spy Uganda
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen found herself in an uncomfortable situation during the EU’s Africa summit on Friday, when she was ignored by Uganda’s foreign minister.
The embarrassing incident unfolded during a protocol photo, that von der Leyen attended alongside European Council President Charles Michel and France’s President Emmanuel Macron.
The official greeted Uganda’s top diplomat Abubakhar Jeje Odongo, who seemingly ignored her and strolled past her to shake hands with the two men, footage shows.
The minister greeted Michel and Macron, engaging in a conversation with the two. Odongo then stood for the protocol photo, still without acknowledging von der Leyen. It took an effort from Macron motioning in her direction to draw Odongo’s attention to the Commission president. He then briefly exchanged words with her and left the photo op.
The incident immediately invoked comparisons with the infamous ‘Sofagate’ scandal that unfolded in April last year. Back then, von der Leyen visited Turkey alongside Michel, meeting the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The official was left sitting alone on a sofa, while Erdogan and Michel were provided gilded chairs to sit next to one another during the talks.
The scandal prompted accusations of sexism and misogyny against Erdogan and landed Michel in hot water for failing to stand up for von der Leyen. While EU and Turkish officials alike tried to brush off the affair as a misunderstanding of protocols, von der Leyen said the incident left her feeling “alone” both “as a woman and as a European.”
Michel’s apparent lack of action during the new incident drew fresh criticism, with some accusing the official of drawing no lessons from ‘Sofagate’. The photo op awkwardness, however, drew significantly less attention than the original scandal, with none of the officials involved offering any comment on the situation