Even though the city of Leuven authorised the entourage of the Sultan of Oman to use the city’s pedestrianised main square as a parking lot after their arrival, the police decided it was not allowed after all.
Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said (79) arrived in the Flemish city of Leuven on Saturday 7 December to receive medical treatment at the UZ Leuven university hospital. According to Al Jazeera, he is believed to be suffering from colon cancer.
Usually, all motorised vehicles except police and public transport vehicles are banned from entering or parking in the pedestrian area of Leuven, but a spokesperson for the local police, Nicholas Del Pieron, told HLN that police were aware of the vans’ presence in the square and that all measures were "taken in accordance with the security services."
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However, the police have now decided that the sultan's entourage is not allowed to park there after all. "It would only be allowed if it was necessary for security reasons," said Marc Vranckx of the Leuven police, reports Het Laatste Nieuws.
On Monday, a local resident in Leuven took to Twitter to express surprise upon seeing several black vans parked in a row in front of the Sint-Pieterskerk, located in the Grote Markt inside the city’s pedestrian area.
Je mag gerust een heel hotel afhuren, als je dat wil betalen, maar ik wist niet dat de grote markt ook als parking kon gekocht worden... pic.twitter.com/Pyo56EUJC0— Geert Van Damme (@darlingGeert) December 8, 2019
“Surely you can rent an entire hotel if you want to pay for it, but I did not know that the Grote Markt, too, could be purchased as parking lot,” Leuven resident Geert Van Damme wrote on Twitter, referring to the news that the Sultan had booked an entire four-star hotel for his stay.
The local and federal police decided that only two vehicles were allowed at the same time, on the side of the Eikstraat, not in front of the Sint-Pieterskerk, as they did at the beginning of the week, reports VRT.
"We made good agreements about parking the vehicles of the Omani delegation that the representatives of the sultan himself agree with. They emphasized on behalf of the sultan that they are very satisfied to be guests in Leuven and that they want to cooperate fully in order to ensure that this visit will take place without hindrance to the people," said Vranckx.
The Brussels Times