Kinshasa suspends military cooperation with Belgium

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has decided to bring to an end military cooperation with Belgium. The news appears in the latest edition of the Pan-African magazine ‘Jeune Afrique’. Last week the Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders (Francophone liberal) criticised the appointment of Bruno Tshibala as Prime Minister of the Central African country.

The Defence Ministery spokesman Laurence Mortier told the press agency Belga that “Our Defence Attaché in Kinshasa has received a letter stating that military cooperation is being suspended”. An anonymous Congolese army source confirmed that the cooperation with the Belgian military has been ended.

The last time that military cooperation was suspended was in 1997, after Laurent-Désiré Kabila came to power, it was restored in 2001 when Joseph Kabila came to power. The cooperation currently mainly involves the Belgian Army training Congolese troops.

The Belgian Army trained the rapid interventions teams that were used to quash the rebellion in Enyele in early 2010 and against the M23 rebels in North Kivu in 2012 and 2013.

Last week, the Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said that
Mr Tshibala is contrary to the spirit of the accord on the transition towards election in the Democratic Republic of Congo that was signed at the end of last year.

The Foreign Minister called for the scrapping of restrictions on a number of rights and freedoms, adding that Belgium will consult with our international partners about relations with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Meanwhile, Kinshasa let it be known that it was not happy with Mr Reynders’ statement.