Belgium-DR Congo: Belgian King condemns colonial regime "based on exploitation and domination”
“Although many Belgians gave their best in Congo at the time, genuinely loved the country and its people, the colonial regime as such was based on exploitation and domination.” Belgian king Philip said this on Wednesday in his long-awaited speech in the Congolese capital Kinshasa.
Two years ago, on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of Congolese independence, the king already expressed his regret about the colonial period in a letter. He repeated that regret on Wednesday in front of the Congolese, on his first visit to the country.
“This regime was based on a relationship of inequality that was unjustifiable in itself”, the King stressed. “It was characterised by paternalism, discrimination and racism. And it gave rise to outrages and humiliations. On the occasion of my first trip to Congo, I would like to express here, before the Congolese people and all those who are still suffering from it today, my deepest regret for those wounds of the past”, the king said.
Relations between Belgium and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have seen highs and lows in recent decades, the king admitted. “Today, the foundations are being laid for a new bilateral partnership."
Several thousand Congolese gathered under a blazing sun on the square in front of the parliament building on Wednesday afternoon to listen to the words of the Belgian king. Like the rest of the capital, the square was adorned with large pictures of the royal couple and Congolese president Félix Tshisekedi.
In the second part of his speech, the King looked ahead and expressed concern about security in the country. “The preservation of the territorial integrity of the Congo is a major concern that we share”, he said, referring to political instability and violent conflicts in the east of the country.
Relations between Belgium and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have seen highs and lows in recent decades, the king admitted. “It was time to rekindle them. Today, the foundations are being laid for a new bilateral partnership. Congo will thus remain our most important partner in Africa.”
The king concluded his speech with a “Long Live Congo” in the country’s four official national languages and in French, the administrative language.
© BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK
© BELGA VIDEO JEROME FETU