Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès to lead a mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in early February


Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès will lead a mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in early February which will "consecrate relations" between the two countries.

Wilmès announced this fact on Wednesday morning after a meeting with Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The Belgian Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Philippe Goffin, and of Development Cooperation, Alexander De Croo, are also announced to be in the delegation for the trip.

The central points were not addressed Wednesday morning. Tshisekedi and Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès mainly discussed "the importance of communicating with each other and of marking our relations more officially".
 
The two political leaders will meet again "in two and a half weeks, during a mission that I will lead in the DRC," said the Prime Minister, stressing that "many investors want to work with the Congo".


A series of discussion points will be on the agenda, such as the reopening of a Congolese consulate in Antwerp or the appointment by the DRC of an ambassador in Brussels. "It will also be an opportunity to open the Consulate General of Lubumbashi", which officially reopened in early January.

The two countries are emerging from a serious diplomatic crisis but their relations have largely normalized since the entry into office of Félix Tshisekedi, who emerged victorious from the disputed presidential election of December 30, 2018. Brussels and Kinshasa had sealed their reconciliation during a visit official visit of Mr. Tshisekedi in Belgium in September.

The crisis was caused by the postponement of the elections in the DRC, initially scheduled for the end of 2018 and the criticisms expressed by the Belgian government. It led to the suspension of the bilateral Military Partnership Program (MPP) in April 2017, then in early 2018 following a "fundamental review" of the cooperation decided by the Belgian government until "the organization of elections credible "in the DRC.

In retaliation, the Congolese government had ordered Belgium to close its consulate general in Lubumbashi, end the activities of its new development agency (Enabel) and close the Schengen House in Kinshasa. The frequencies of the airline Brussels Airlines had also been reduced from seven weekly flights to four.

These measures have been canceled since Felix Tshisekedi took office and a new Belgian ambassador, Jo Indekeu, took up his post in late October in Kinshasa.

Cassienn Tribunal Aungane, Editor

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