Hadja Lahbib becomes Belgium’s new minister of Foreign Affairs

Hadja Lahbib becomes Belgium’s new minister of Foreign Affairs. The RTBF journalist succeeds Sophie Wilmès after Wilmès announced her definitive resignation from the government to take care of her sick husband. David Clarinval will become Deputy prime minister for the MR in the federal government


Instead of someone from his own liberal stable, MR Chairman Bouchez chose Hadja Lahbib. The 52-year old from Schaarbeek is an RTBF journalist, was a news anchor for years and is therefore a familiar face on the other side of the language border. She has Algerian roots, but was born in our country. For the past year, she has also been involved in the candidacy of Brussels as European cultural capital in 2030.


Lahbib receives all the powers of Wilmès. It concerns Foreign Affairs, European Affairs, Foreign Trade and the Federal Cultural Institutions. Minister of the Self-Employed David Clarinval remains Deputy prime minister for the MR for the remainder of the legislature, a task he had already taken on since Wilmès temporarily stepped aside at the end of April. "In this way, continuity is assured," Bouchez said.


The new Foreign Minister admits that she has no political experience, but refers to her experience as a journalist in the field. "When I was present as a reporter in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan or India, I always wanted to build bridges between shores that were sometimes far apart. As a privileged witness, I could tell and analyse. Now I have been asked to decide and take action," she explained. 


According to Bouchez, Lahbib was his first choice. "Make no mistake. She may not have the political experience, but she has a better knowledge of the field than some of her predecessors when they came to Foreign Affairs," he echoed. "It is often said that people should be more involved in politics and that politics should not be a closed field," Bouchez noted. According to him, Lahbib can contribute something with her track record, field of interest and competences. "What happened with Wilmès is an obstacle, but we are turning that into an opportunity," he says.

"I am proud that from now on I can be the first face of Belgium abroad," Lahbib added. She admits that Bouchez's request was not easy. "It would have been more comfortable to remain a journalist. This takes me out of my comfort zone." Lahbib incidentally introduced herself in French and Dutch, but immediately indicated that she understands Dutch better than she speaks it, although she is audibly not completely impotent in the language.


© BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT- Newly presented Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib and King Philippe - Filip of Belgium shake hands during the oath ceremony of Labib, who will become the new Foreign Minister replacing Wilmes, at the Royal Palace, Friday 15 July 2022, in Brussels. Labib, a former journalist, replaces Wilmes, who has resigned from her function.


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