A new twist has emerged within Belgium’s political and economic arenas about some Belgian companies reportedly doing business in Rwanda.
The developments came to light following an article by Belgium-based “La Libre Belgique” newspaper published on February 22, with the headline: “Rwanda: An unofficial, controversial mission”.
According to this article by “La Libre Belgique” newspaper, Belgian companies keep coming to Rwanda despite unfavourable remarks by Didier Reynders, Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs.
About 30 Belgian companies are now operational in Burundi − Rwanda’s neighbour in the South – under the auspices of Awex and Brussels Invest and Export Company, according to Benoît Cerexhe, Belgium’s Minister for Economy. And there’s a possibility that more 15 Belgian companies will operate in Rwanda soon, in construction, energy and healthy sectors.
Meanwhile, Belgian MP, Vincent Lurquin, doesn’t please in Belgium indulging in business with Rwanda.
“Companies that go to Rwanda, do it out of their independent decision,” Benoît Cerexhe, Belgium’s Minister for Economy said, while explaining how Belgium and Rwanda are in business.
According to the same article by “La Libre Belgique” newspaper, MP Vincent Lurquin believes it’s just shocking that the Belgium’s mission in Rwanda gives out information such as necessary requirements to get a visa in Rwanda and schedules of flights between Burundi’s capital Bujumbura and Kigali, Rwanda.
“It’s a mission far from being unofficial: Everything is put in place by public powers [Belgian diplomats on ground] in order to woo Belgian companies into doing business in Rwanda”, says Vincent Lurquin for whom these powers send “a positive signal” to the Rwandan government while, at the same time, getting “totally in contradiction” with the Belgian diplomacy.
“Such an action also gets in contradiction with respecting the values of human rights as stipulated by the Brussels entity,” adds Vincent Lurquin.
Meanwhile,Rwanda and its neighbour in the North, Uganda, are, in a report by what is known as a UN Group of Experts, accused of abetting in arms, ammunition and troops the M23 rebel movement which, since April 2012, has been battling it with the Congolese government forces in the already volatile, conflict-torn Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Allegations both Rwanda and Uganda have vehemently denied.
And following these allegations – which both Rwanda and Uganda have consistently rebuffed − some Western countries – including Belgium, have either frozen or just suspended their aids to Rwanda.