Expatica news

PM outraged at honour for Kabila

27 February 2007

BRUSSELS – Prime minister Guy Verhofstadt and Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel De Gucht are outraged at Defence Minister André Flahaut’s plan to award Congolese president Joseph Kabila an honorary degree from the Royal Military School (KMS). The faculty of the institution have also voiced protest at the plan.

Dean of faculty and economics professor Wally Struys said that the faculty was informed during several meetings about the defence minister’s “intention” of granting Kabila a doctorate.

“It was discussed and the practically unanimous conclusion was that a doctorate would be premature,” the professor said. “We are pleased that democratic elections were held in the country but the democratic institutions are not yet fully functioning.”

Flahaut announced the honorary degree during a visit to Kinshasa last Friday, a trip that he took despite strong reservations from the prime minister.

Flahaut reportedly invited Kabila for a visit to Belgium at the end of March.

Verhofstadt and De Gucht are extremely angry. The matter is also connected to the discussion of whether it would be appropriate for King Albert to visit the Congo, in light of the corruption that has characterised the government there for several decades. In this matter the government finally decided that the foreign affairs minister would decide when and how a royal visit to the Congo could be planned.

All the other government ministers should in the meantime refrain from comment and avoid giving the impression that Belgium is meddling in the formation of the government in Congo.

[Copyright Expatica News 2007]

Subject: Belgian news