Brussels summit controversy: Government survives diplomatic blunder
PS, Ecolo and Groen will not vote out Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib (MR) next Thursday as they do not want to risk bringing down the government as a result of the Brussels Urban Summit controversy. However, they point out that trust in Lahbib has not been restored following the granting of visas to an Iranian delegation to Belgium.
Earlier this week, Lahbib apologised for her role in granting visas to a delegation of 14 Iranians ahead of the Brussels Urban Summit. She initially blamed Pascal Smet, who has since resigned as Brussels secretary of state. But after widespread criticism and political pressure, she admitted she had made a mistake.
Despite her apology, the socialists and greens were still critical of Lahbib on Monday, leaving her fate and that of the government hanging by a thread. Now both have confirmed that they will support her in a vote next Thursday.
"We do not want to jeopardise the country's stability," said Wouter De Vriendt of Groen. "For us, however, Lahibib must promise to reform the visa procedure, reaffirm the fight for human rights in Iran, and put the Iranian ambassador on the spot."
"The crisis we are in now was caused by Mrs Lahbib's inability to give correct information"
PS also remains critical. "The crisis we are in now was caused by Mrs Lahbib's inability to give correct information to Parliament, which had to endure her mistakes, untruths and many attempts to evade responsibility," said MP Malik Ben Achour. "Our party finds it unacceptable that the MR has repeatedly tried to blame the Brussels government and shift the responsibility to others in the federal government."
Nevertheless, the majority parties will support the motion to reject the opposition's censure motions against Lahbib.
© BELGA PHOTO JAMES ARTHUR GEKIERE