Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès is officially resigning from the Federal Government, she announced in a press release on Thursday.
Wilmès had already temporarily stepped aside in April to make more time for her family after her husband was diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer, but is now resigning officially. She has submitted her resignation to King Philippe, who accepted it.
"My husband's illness will be a difficult battle that I want to fight at his side and at the side of our children," Wilmès said. "My current duties in the government do not allow me to do so."
"From the bottom of my heart, I thank the many people, from all over society, who have supported us and continue to do so," she added. "I also thank the Prime Minister and my federal colleagues who ensured continuity during my absence. To them, to whoever succeeds me, and to the entire government, I wish success and perseverance, to bring to fruition the projects and reforms that our country so desperately needs."
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Since Wilmès took a step back in April, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo as well as Minister David Clarinval and Mathieu Michel took over her duties. Wilmès' departure from the government now means MR leader Georges-Louis Bouchez will have to appoint a successor. There is no clarity yet on a possible successor.
From the beginning of the new parliamentary year, Wilmès will once again be a Member of Parliament, where she will continue to work closely with her parliamentary colleagues and with the party presidency, the press release reads.
In a first reaction on Twitter, De Croo made it clear that he admires the person Wilmès is and the choice she made. "We stand behind you in the fight you are waging with Christopher. Thank you for your dedication and effort over the past years. This is not goodbye, till we meet again!"
From October 2019 to October 2020, Wilmès served as Belgium's Prime Minister. The first six months of that period, she headed a caretaker government, after former PM Charles Michel resigned and became President of the European Council.
From March 2020, Wilmès led a full minority government-Wilmès II, until De Croo took over after the formation of the current Federal Government on 1 October 2020.