Expatica news

Walloon government backs minister in arms row

11 March 2005

BRUSSELS – The Wallonian government is standing by a controversial decision by one of its ministers to grant a license for the construction of a munitions factory to Tanzania.

“There will not be a ‘Simonet’ affair,” declared an article on RTBF’s website.

It was referring to a decision by Wallonian External Affairs Minister Marie-Dominque Simonet authorising a Liege company to export equipment to build a munitions factory in Tanzania.

Federal authorities, including Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht, are worried that arms made in the factory will be used to destabilise neighbouring countries, including the volatile Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Wallonian government, however, has thrown its support behind Simonet, claiming that there is too little information to take any action.

It says that better information exchanges could be used to avoid such ‘psychodramas’ in the future.

According to RTBF, the license could take effect any time.

The executive in charge of the Liege factory said that losing the Tanzania contract may force it to go out of business.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news