King Philippe expresses in Congo his “deep regrets for the wounds of the past”

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King Philippe expresses his “deepest regrets” for the “acts of violence” and the “sufferings“inflicted on the Leopoldian and then Belgian Congo, in a letter addressed to the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, on the occasion of 60th anniversary of Congo’s independence. The missive, considered historic, made the front pages of the daily newspapers Le Soir, La Libre Belgique, La Dernier Heure, Sudpresse titles as well as the Flemish press on Tuesday.

King Philippe is the first reigning sovereign to express his regrets on this subject holding that “to further strengthen our ties and develop an even more fruitful friendship, we must be able to speak of our long common history in all truth and serenity“.

Our history is made of common achievements but has also experienced painful episodes

Our history is made of common achievements but has also experienced painful episodes. At the time of the independent state of Congo, acts of violence and cruelty were committed, which still weigh on our collective memory. The colonial period that followed also caused suffering and humiliation“, describes the descendant of Leopold II.

I would like to express my deepest regrets for these wounds of the past, the pain of which is rekindled today by the discrimination still too present in our societies“then assures the King of the Belgians to the address of the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. King Philippe adds that he intends to continue”to combat all forms of racism“and encourage in this regard”the reflection which is initiated by our Parliament so that our memory is definitively pacified“.

A speech by Sophie Wilmès

In his letter, the king also presents his congratulations to the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the 60th anniversary of the independence of the Congo, regretting – “given the current circumstances“- not being able to attend the festivities to which he had been invited.

La Libre Belgique indicates that Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès (MR) should also speak publicly on Tuesday to deliver a message similar to that of the head of state.

Below, in its entirety, the letter congratulations to Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the 60th anniversary of the Congo’s independence.

On this 60th anniversary of the independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I extend my warmest wishes to you and to the Congolese people.

This anniversary is an opportunity to renew our feelings of deep friendship and to rejoice in the intense cooperation that exists between our two countries in so many fields, and in particular in the medical field, which is mobilizing us during this pandemic period. The health crisis strikes us amidst other concerns. The privileged partnership between Belgium and Congo is an asset to face it. On this national holiday, I wish to reaffirm our commitment by your side.

To further strengthen our ties and develop an even more fruitful friendship, we must be able to speak of our long common history in all truth and serenity.

Our history is made of common achievements but has also experienced painful episodes. At the time of the independent state of Congo acts of violence and cruelty were committed, which still weigh on our collective memory. The colonial period that followed also caused suffering and humiliation. I would like to express my deepest regrets for these wounds of the past, the pain of which is today rekindled by the discrimination still too present in our societies. I will continue to fight all forms of racism. I encourage the reflection that has been initiated by our parliament so that our memory is definitively pacified.

Global challenges demand that we look to the future in a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect. The fight for human dignity and for sustainable development requires joining forces. It is this ambition that I formulate for our two countries and for our two continents, African and European.

The current circumstances unfortunately do not allow me to go to your beautiful country, which I would so much like to know. I hope I will have the opportunity soon.



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