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De Gucht on visit to Congo

Published on 11/04/2007

11 April 2007

BRUSSELS – Foreign Affairs Minister Karel de Gucht (Open VLD) uttered some harsh words in a speech to an audience of 100 people in Kinshasa on Tuesday. He called on Congolese politicians to introduce transparent and efficient governance, to put the interests of the country and the people before private interests.

Despite De Gucht’s diplomatic formulations, initial reactions from Congolese politicians indicate they understood his words as sharp criticism of the political reality in Congo. And that was the minister’s intention.

De Gucht had briefly considered cancelling his trip to Congo. Fighting between the troops of President Joseph Kabila and those of opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba claimed hundreds of lives in the capital of Kinshasa last month.

But De Gucht went ahead with his trip, arriving in Congo yesterday, after a visit to Liberia on Monday and visits to Angola, Zambia, Rwanda and Burundi planned before his tour is over.

De Gucht sees Belgium’s role in the region as part of an international consensus. After his arrival at the airport he went immediately to a meeting of EU ambassadors led by MONUC, the UN’s peace-keeping force aimed at overseeing Congo’s transition to stability and democracy.

It is uncertain whether Minister De Gucht will meet with President Kabila at all. De Gucht leaves Kinshasa for the southern mining city of Lubumbashi this afternoon.

[Copyright Expatica News 2007]

Subject: Belgian news