Officer to be sanctioned for Flemish critique: minister

27th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

A senior military officer was relieved of his command after having denounced a "Flemishisation" of Belgium's army, in what francophone Finance Minister Didier Reynders called Wednesday a "sanction".

"Obviously this can be seen as a sanction and it will end in the courts," said Reynders, who heads the French-speaking Reformist Movement (MR) party.

Earlier this month, Colonel Luc Gennart fanned the flames of longstanding linguistic differences between Belgium's French-speaking Walloons and Flemings by suggesting the Dutch-speakers controlled the Belgian army.

"The Flemings decide everything," Gennart told RTBF public television station in unusually blunt remarks for the military.

"The francophones are shunted aside," he said, either sent "to schools or overseas".

Gennart was called to order by defense chief Charles-Henri Delcour and prematurely relieved of his command which was due to end December 1.

His remarks come amid an ongoing political crisis in Belgium, which remains without a new government four months after elections.

Last week, King Albert II tasked a Flemish socialist senator to mediate between French speaking parties and breakaway-minded Flemish hardliners.

© 2010 AFP

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