The Deputy Prime Ministers Didier Reynders and Alexander De Croo, respectively Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Development Cooperation, met with members of the government, the opposition and the civil society during their joint mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), from 21 to 25 February 2015, in Kinshasa and Goma (North Kivu).
Belgium closely followed the developments related to the adoption of the new election law, and welcomes the publication of the timetable for the provincial, urban, municipal and local elections in 2015 and for the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2016. The Ministers Reynders and De Croo insisted that everything should be done to ensure that the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2016 are not subject to any delay because of the provincial, urban, municipal and local elections. They reiterated that Belgium stands ready to contribute to a successful electoral process.
Didier Reynders welcomed the willingness of the DRC for a military intervention by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in the eastern part of the country. Finding a solution for the problem of the armed groups is important, not only for the Congolese people, but also for the stability of the African Great Lakes region. In this context, Minister Reynders stressed the importance of a constructive synergy between MONUSCO, mandated by the UN Security Council, and the FARDC. Pragmatic solutions should be found to ensure the efficiency of the operations and the protection of the population.
The visit of both ministers to the DRC also underlined the continued support of Belgium for the development of the country. The objective is that everyone benefits from economic growth. The DRC is the largest beneficiary of Belgian development aid. Alexander De Croo confirmed this commitment, that favors a cooperation close to the people, particularly in the areas of education, rural development and health. In this context, Minister De Croo underlined that this partnership needs a greater involvement of the Congolese government. During the next months, Alexander De Croo wishes to develop a more integrated approach for the Belgian cooperation, where different actions are mutually reinforced and produce more results. He asked the Belgian Development Agency (BTC) as well as his administration to present proposals to develop this approach.
Didier Reynders and Alexander De Croo underlined that socio-economic development, as well as the rule of law and democracy imply respect for universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms. Following the events of January 2015 and the measures that have been taken, especially the freedom of the internet and the actions of the security forces were discussed with the Congolese government.
The working visit was also an opportunity to make progress on economic issues, in the aviation sector, port management and river transport. Individual consular cases were also discussed, in particular the situation of detained persons, including compatriots.
Security cooperation was discussed, with a mutual interest in preventing radicalization and violent extremism in Central and Eastern Africa.