Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi extended an invitation to Belgium’s King Philippe to attend the 60th anniversary of the nation’s independence from Belgian colonial rule.
“The president said that the King was invited,” Interim Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès said, adding that the official invitation for the event, scheduled for June, had already been sent out, Le Soir reports.
“We will see about it in June, we will probably already have a new government by then,” she added, referring to the efforts to create a federal government coalition, ongoing since the May 2019 elections.
Wilmès’ announcement came on the third day of a state trip to the country, the first official visit by a Belgian prime minister to the DRC in 12 years, as both countries work to rekindle ties.
We heropenen plechtig het consulaat-generaal in Lubumbashi. Deze plaats belichaamt de fysieke band tussen ons land, en de Belgen en Congolezen die in deze uitgestrekte regio wonen. Een nieuw begin! #Lubumbashi#Congo 🇧🇪🤝🇨🇩 pic.twitter.com/BEYFccdwNk
The Belgian delegation’s visit follows Tshisekedi’s own choice to make Belgium the destination of his first European state trip, signalling a thawing of relations, strained over criticism of Tshisekedi’s accession to power at the start of 2019.
The last event of the Belgian state visit was the reopening of the Belgian consulate in Lubumbashi, the country’s mining hub and second-largest city, an event which Wilmès said symbolised “a new start” for both countries.
Congo’s invitation to King Philippe would potentially mark the second time a Belgian king attends a 10-year independence anniversary, following King Albert II and Queen Paola’s visit to the country on the occasion of the 50th independence anniversary.