Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Congo - Belgium: How Real is the Split

Since Belgium Foreign Minister Karl De Gucht criticized the Kabila regime for lack of transparency in its dealing with China, human rights abuses and corruption relations have been rocky between the two countries. The critique was leveled in less than diplomatic terms. In fact, it was done like a parent lecturing a child in proclaiming that Belgium had a moral right over the Congo and its leaders. De Gucht exact quote was "I feel that we have not only the right but the moral obligation to say what we think about what is happening in the Congo, and it's not going at all in the right direction."

Kabila's reaction was to recall Congo's ambassador to Brussels and closed its consulate in Antwerp. It is not much of a stretch for Belgium to lay claim over the current crop of leaders in the Congo. Belgium and the international community played more of a role in placing the current leadership in power than the people of the Congo. It was not long ago that former Belgium Foreign Minister and current EU Development Commissioner, Louis Michel declared that Kabila had the right vision for the Congo and soon after being "elected," Belgium was primed to endow president Kabila with a honorary doctorate degree.

Apparently, things have changed since those honeymoon days. The row has exacerbated to the point where Congo has forced Belgium to close two of its consulates in the cities of Bukavu and Lubumbashi.


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