Belgian PM to ‘seal renewed friendship between countries’ with visit to Congo
Wednesday, 05 February 2020
She will be the first Belgian PM to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital. Credit: Belga
Sophie Wilmès, the outgoing Prime Minister, will be the first Belgian PM to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, in almost ten years on Wednesday.
The visit has to “seal the renewed friendship between Belgium and Congo.” Alexander De Croo, vice-Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation, and Pieter De Crem, Minister for Foreign Trade, will travel with her.
They will travel to the Congolese capital Kinshasa to meet President Félix Tshisekedi, who has been in power for more than a year now. Other high-level contacts and visits are planned as well, and the trio will end their trip by attending the formal reopening of the Belgian consulate in Lubumbashi. The plane carrying the Belgian delegation will also bring two tonnes of humanitarian aid for the Congolese population, reports L’Echo.
With this visit, the Belgian government answers Tshisekedi’s visit to Belgium in September 2019, which was the first time in 12 years that a Congolese president set foot on Belgian soil.
It has to put a definitive end to the diplomatic crisis between Belgium and Congo that lasted until the beginning of 2019. The tension was due to the lack of clarity about the Congolese elections and the repeated Belgian criticism thereof, a possible new presidential mandate for Joseph Kabila, and the violent repression of the people’s protests.
Even though Belgium initially opposed the “official result” of the elections that made Félix Tshisekedi the new president, it accepted the result in hopes that Kabila’s exit could help turn the tide, reports Bruzz.
It has been since June 2010 that a Belgian Prime Minister visited Kinshasa. King Albert II and Queen Paola were accompanied by then-Prime Minister Yves Leterme, when they visited the former colony for the 50th anniversary of Congolese independence.