Parliamentary Congo committee "will not dodge issue of apology"
The special committee which is examining Belgium's colonial past in the country's federal parliament is going into depth and "will not dodge the issue of apologies", says committee chairman Wouter De Vriendt. The statement came in response to king Philip's speech in Kinshasa, during which the sovereign expressed his "deepest regret" but did not issue a formal apology.
"I focus on the positive. The fact that the king expresses his deepest regret for the misdeeds of Belgium's colonial past in front of the Congolese people is absolutely groundbreaking", says De Vriendt.
The special commission is currently examining the role and responsibility of entities such as the monarchy, the state, the church and corporations. The investigation will be followed by hearings on several sensitive subjects, particularly surrounding recovery.
"At the end of this month we will start those discussions", says De Vriendt. "We are doing our work thoroughly and at a tight pace. So far in the hearings we have already heard some eighty speakers, including Congolese, Rwandans and Burundians, and the diaspora."
© BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK