No apologies from Belgium to Congo, Burundi and Rwanda for colonial past for now

During the parliamentary committee on Belgium's past, MPs failed to reach an agreement. So, for now, Belgium will not apologise to Congo, Burundi and Rwanda for its colonial past.

"The parliamentary committee aimed to create clarity and draw lessons for the future," committee chairman Wouter De Vriendt (Groen) told VRT NWS. "But the differences between the parties were unbridgeable."

After more than two years of work, the congressional committee failed. The parties continued to disagree on Article 69, which proposes that parliament should apologise to the Congolese, Burundian and Rwandan people for the colonial past.

According to the liberal parties MR and Open VLD, this article goes too far. They wanted to stick to an expression of regret similar to that of Belgian King Philippe during his visit to Congo in June. The socialist party PS, in turn, found that wording insufficient. Right-wing parties Vlaams Belang and N-VA stepped down.

According to committee chairman De Vriendt (Groen), political interests were not sufficiently pushed aside during the talks. "There was an insufficient willingness to look for a compromise within the Belgian ruling parties. Furthermore, the distance between the opposition parties was great. In terms of apologies, that distance even proved unbridgeable."

The mandate of the special parliamentary committee will expire at the end of this year. So the chances of another consensus emerging between the different parties are almost non-existent. "There is no plan B," De Vriendt concluded. "Nevertheless, this is a report that can be built on. Some minds are not ripe for it today, but that may be different tomorrow. Times change quickly."

The Special Parliamentary Commission on Colonial Past Congo was set up in the summer of 2020 with the mission of 'facing up to Belgium's colonial past, trying to come to terms with it and taking measures to redress the suffering caused'.




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