Foreign minister defends himself
His remarks on corruption and human rights violations in Congo were the stance of the Belgian government.29 April 2008
BELGIUM - After an eight day tour of Central Africa, Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht has returned to Brussels.
In the beginning of his visit to Congo, De Gucht spoke sharp words regarding corruption in Congo and violations of human rights.
The Congolese authorities were clearly not happy with the reproaches, but De Gucht reiterates that he said what he had to say. He emphasises that this is the stance of the Belgian government.
"Democracy must benefit all the citizens, not just a small elite, as is the case now," said De Gucht.
De Gucht was accompanied on his trip by Defence Minister Pieter De Crem and International Development Minister Charles Michel.
According to Belgian Francophone daily Le Soir, Congolese President Joseph Kabila was not at all amused by the Belgian reproaches, calling them arrogant and paternalistic.
The daily had President Kabila quoted in the headline as saying, "The master-slave relationship is over!"
Congo used to be a Belgian colony and gained independence in 1960.
De Gucht stands by his statements, stressing that they did not represent a personal view, but rather the view of the Belgian government.
[flandersenews.be / Expatica]