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PM takes Brussels' Mayor to task over tolerating demo

Belgium’s security council will in future decide whether or not mass rallies like Sunday’s anti-racism demonstration in Brussels can go ahead. The protest came in response to George Floyd’s death in the US. The decision to take the matter away from local politicians was announced after federal PM Sophie Wilmès (Francophone liberal) took Philippe Close, the burgomaster of the City of Brussels (Francophone socialist), to task following the demo. “The PM summoned me.  It’s normal to be there” he said on entering the building.   

As the head of local police, Mr Close was attacked (verbally) after allowing the demonstration to go ahead despite Belgium’s current ban on mass gatherings.  In many quarters there was scant understanding for his decision to tolerate a demo involving 10,000 people at a time when Belgium seems to be recovering from the corona crisis. Most demonstrators wore mouth and nose coverings but were packed in together very closely.  Following the meeting with the PM Mr Close did not repeat his utterance that even with hindsight he would stick to his decision: “It’s been such a constructive meeting between the PM and myself” he said afterwards. “Our priority has always been the health situation.  No, the PM wasn’t angry.  There is great co-operation between the various authorities.”