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King not to visit Congo

Published on 22/02/2007

22 February 2007

BRUSSELS –King Albert II will not make it to the Democratic Republic of Congo before the end of the summer, is the expectation in political and diplomatic circles.

One source says that the trip is a priority for both the prime minister and the king. The prime minister stopped speculation on a royal visit however by announcing plans to send De Gucht to the country first. De Gucht will have to test the waters and figure out when a royal visit could be planned.

Le Soir says De Gucht will make a tour of Africa between 9 and 18 April, visiting a total of five countries, including Congo. He will be in Rwanda on 17 April, to coincide with a visit there by European Commissioner Louis Michel.

Various sources say it is very unlikely that De Gucht will recommend planning a royal trip to Congo very soon upon his return. One source in diplomatic circles told Le Soir that the debate in Parliament on the matter has still not been settled and that enthusiasm for the trip has waned among some of the MPs who initially supported such a visit.

The concern about the royal visit centres on the question of whether it would by definition lend credibility to the Kabila/Gizenga government. It is still not certain whether this government will succeed in putting an end to the scandal, corruption and abuse of power that has characterised policy in Congo for decades. The matter has been cause for heated debate in Parliament over the past weeks.

[Copyright Expatica News 2007]

Subject: Belgian news