The Saudi secretary-general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has resigned days after he angered Egypt with remarks that appeared to mock President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi.
A statement from the OIC said Iyad Ameen Madani had resigned from his post for “health reasons”. It did not give details. Saudi Arabia nominated Yousuf Al Othaimeen, a former minister, as his replacement.
Madani, 70, had held the post since 2012. His resignation came two days after Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukry condemned Madani’s remarks, describing them as a “serious encroachment against a founding member state” of the OIC and its political leadership.
Last week, Madani mixed up el-Sisi’s name with that of Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi at a conference and then remarked: “I am sure your fridge has more than water.”
This was an apparent jibe at el-Sisi, who told a conference in October that his fridge contained nothing but water for a decade – a comment seen as a message to Egyptians to be ready to cope with harsh economic conditions. Madani’s remarks outraged Egyptians and the government in Cairo.
Shoukry also said after the incident that Egypt would review its position toward the OIC. On Monday, Egypt’s foreign ministry welcomed Saudi Arabia’s nomination of Madani’s replacement.
Madani has said his remarks were “only based on a sense of humour and were by no means intended to be offensive to the Egyptian leadership”, according to the Saudi daily Arab News.