Category Archives: Central Africa

Lumumba square inaugurated in Brussels

Hundreds of attendees cheered when officials unveiled a blue plaque bearing Lumumba’s name in the square at the entrance Congolese Matonge area in Brussels.

It is the first public area in the former metropole to honour Lumumba, who was assassinated in 1961 in an shooting incident in which Belgium was implicated along with the CIA.

 

Congolese Bemba liberation as blow to prosecution

The International Criminal Court (ICC), The Hague, the Netherlands, on Friday, June 8, overturned the war crimes conviction of former Democratic Republic of Congo Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba,  considered as a huge blow to prosecutors that could also impact politics in his home country in future.

Bemba was one of only four people convicted by the permanent war crimes court in its 16 years of operation, and the highest ranking among them. He had been convicted of murder, rape and pillage for actions by fighters he sent to Central African Republic to back CAR’s then-president Ange-Felix Patasse.

Judge Christine Van den Wijngaert said Bemba, once the leader of Congo’s main opposition party, could not be held responsible for crimes carried out by troops under his control in CAR in 2002-2003.

Dismissing his 18-year-sentence, she said trial judges had failed to consider his efforts to stop crimes committed by his Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) once he became aware of them, and how difficult it would have been for him to control the troops’ actions from a distance.

Mr Bemba cannot be held criminally responsible for the crimes committed by MLC troops during the Central African Republic operation,” she said, reading the ruling of a 5-judge appeal panel. Bemba’s efforts to stop the crimes “extinguished his responsibility in full”, she said.

EU expects inclusive elections in Congo

The Foreign Affairs Council discussed the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

“Foreign ministers stressed the importance of following the electoral process which is expected to lead to the general election scheduled for 23 December 2018 in a credible, legitimate, consensual and inclusive way” – the text of the Council conclusions says.

Ministers also expressed their concern over the dire humanitarian situation, in the light of the recent Ebola outbreak.

 

Congo future elections in EU focus

The Foreign Affairs Council will discuss the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, following up on the Council conclusions of 11 December 2017 and in view of the foreseen elections at the end of the year.

On 11 December the Foreign Affairs Council adopted conclusions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo following the announcement, on 5 November, of an electoral calendar.

The conclusions stress that it is fundamental, in particular for the legitimacy of the institutions in charge of the transition, to guarantee that the election date, now set for 23 December 2018, is respected.

Ebola outbreak in Bikoro

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) declared a new outbreak of Ebola in the northwest of the country, where 17 people died from viral hemorrhagic fever over the past five weeks.

The Health Ministry was informed of the fatal cases near the town of Bikoro in Equateur province on May 3 and subsequently tested five patients suspected of carrying Ebola, the officials said in an emailed statement. Two of the samples tested positive for the Zaire strain of the disease, it said.

Our country is facing a new epidemic of the Ebola virus which constitutes an international health emergency,” the ministry said. “We have the human resources well trained in this matter who have always been able to quickly control previous epidemics.”

EU supports Chad inclusive political dialogue

“A new Constitution has been promulgated in Chad. The process leading to its adoption has not been conducted in a sufficiently inclusive manner as required by by such a fundamental issue”, according to the statement of the European External Action Service (EEAS).

However, a call for the revival of the national framework of political dialogue, launched to organize the dialogue within the Chadian society, was addressed by the President Deby during its promulgation, – the EEAS statement continues.

The European Union remains ready to support Chad for a genuine inclusive political dialogue taking place in this context, respecting fundamental freedoms, and offering all Chadians the opportunity to participate fully in the political, economic and social life of the country. It notes in this respect the opportunity created by the announcement of the holding of legislative elections and the recasting of the Electoral Commission, – the EEAS statement concludes.

New Constitution of Chad reinforces the powers of president. The National Assembly voted the draft Constitution by 132 votes in favor, 2 against. A strong police presence was visible around the National Assembly in N’Djamena, with the opposition and several civil society organizations calling for protests.

 

Belgium downgraded diplomatic presence in DRC

Bertrand de Crombrugghe is no longer the ambassador of Belgium in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Belgian Foreign Ministry confirmed it on Monday (30/04/2018) after the publication of an article in the Dutch newspaper De Standaard.

In January, the diplomat left Kinshasa amid diplomatic tensions between the two countries, officially for “a series of consultations“. Finally, he was relieved from his duties.
When Bertrand de Crombrugghe abruptly left Kinshasa at the end of January, some had already spoken of a “rupture” of relations, however  the Foreign Ministry was downplaying the crisis. “This is not a reminder in the diplomatic sense of the term,” explained one of his spokespersons. Technically, it is a return to Brussels for discussions for ten days, he added.

Three months later, it was finally decided to call him back. The reason given is “the bilateral context”. In other words, the diplomatic turmoil  between the two countries, but not only bilaterally.  Kinshasa has announced the closure of the new Belgian development agency and  the EU Schengen house. Brussels also recalls that the DRC has no ambassador in Belgium for over a year. But the Dutch-language newspaper De Standard coming up with the news, points to a “breach of trust” between the ambassador and the Belgian Foreign Ministry.

Belgium says it is maintaining dialogue with the DRC and hopes that bilateral tensions can be resolved “so that Belgium and the DRC can again be represented at a level of ambassador in Kinshasa and Brussels. Meanwhile, the interim at the Belgian Embassy in Kinshasa is provided by Philippe Bronchain, former Belgian Consul General in Lubumbashi, where the Consulate was closed upon DRC request last February.

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