Today, a few days after the brutal murder of Floribert Chebeya , Congo’s most prominent human rights activist, the country celebrated its 50 years of independence. Although endowed with vast reserves of gold, copper, cobalt and diamonds, Congo is still one of the world’s poorest nations. President Kabila who is ruling since 2006 was recently accused by the International Crisis Group as being authoritarian. In april Margot Wallstrom, the UN’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, called Congo the “rape capital of the world.’ Today Amnesty international called the celebrations in murdering Congo hypocrite. King Albert II of Belgium and his wife Paola represented at the celebrations in Kinshasa the former colonial power, whose then monarch Leopold II annexed the vast African country in 1885 as his own personal property and is credited with its wholesale plundering. As a reaction on this royal visit Vlaams Belang (right wing Flemish party striving to Flemish independency) asked today in a press release to the Flemish parliament to take distance of the visit. The New Flemish Alliance of Bart De Wever already earlier expressed their antipathy for this visit. In Brussels this afternoon Congolese protesters were demonstrating against the celebrations waving the Flemish lion flag. Many Congolese living in Belgium are also seeing Walloon politicians as Louis Michel, André Flahaut, Didier Reynders and Armand De Decker as supportive for the corruption in Congo and the regime of Kabila. Last week Louis Michel of the Walloon liberals even called mass murderer King Leopold II of Belgium a hero.
Freddy Willockx, former minister for the SpA (Flemish socialists) is criticizing in his new book very strongly Belgian utility provider Electrabel. Mr. Willockx (also many years major of Sint-Niklaas a small Flemish city) reveals the company committed active corruption and was frequently influencing political parties on all levels from ministries to complete city councils. Electrabel is reigning over 90% of the Belgian energy market today and is wholly owned by France’s Gaz de France- Suez .The French state holds more than 35% of GDF-Suez. The French monopoly position on the Belgian energy market is very strongly criticized and by many considered as unethical. For example have Belgian customers to pay much higher prices for their energy as French customers. Yearly gigantic amounts of Euros are flowing from Belgian households to GDF-Suez and the French state. As a result there are many calls in Flanders for an own Flemish energy company.
In a poll of the French daily newspaper Le Figaro, 67% of the Walloons speak out that their politicians should not agree to any of the demands for more autonomy of Flanders. About 50% of the same people are in favour of an annexation of Wallonia to France. Earlier polls revealed that 66% of the French would be happy to see Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium, subsumed into France.
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In the Guardian of June 17, Simon Jerkins wrote an inspiring article as a reaction on the electoral victory of the Flemish nationalists titled “Plucky Belgium is leading the way. Today Flanders, tomorrow Scotland”. He summarized the history of ‘artificial’ Belgium, the fate of Flanders, explained parts of the grievance of the Flemings in the current Belgian constitution, made referrals to Slovakia and Slovenia and continued his article with a strong advocacy for more Euro-regionalism. Monday, The Guardian published a reaction of Sophie de Schaepdrijver, Belgian historian and Associate Professor at the Pennsylvania State University. In her article titled “Nothing plucky about breaking up Belgium” she was trying to overthrow the arguments of Jerkins with an amalgam of incomplete,incorrect and misleading facts about the New Flemish Alliance completely useless for the readers of the Guardian and out of the context . She was even referring to the viewpoints of (swallow) the ‘brilliant Flemish writer’ Tom Lanoye very well known in the UK… Consequently we conclude that her reaction was mere Flanders bashing. Mrs. de Schaepdrijver is well-known in Flanders as a revisionist of the crimes and discrimination of the Belgian regime and for her eager preaches to make every Flemish nationalist suspect. She is also a member of B plus, a Belgian nationalistic lobbying group.
A group of legal activists has formally requested war-crimes charges against a dozen Belgian government officials and military officers widely suspected in the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, Congo’s first democratically elected prime minister. Lumumba headed Congo’s largest political party and became leader when Belgium granted independence to the country on June 30, 1960 after a century of colonial rule. Many in the West viewed the charismatic prime minister as a dangerous radical because he wanted to nationalize the new nation’s lucrative, Belgian-owned gold, copper and uranium mining industry. Historians generally agree that top Belgian officials and officers conspired to overthrow him, and that they organized and carried out his execution on Jan. 17, 1961. The death ushered in the long, corrupt dictatorship of Congo’s Western-backed leader Mobutu Sese Seko, who was finally overthrown in 1997. Next week, Belgium’s king Albert II will join the celebrations of the beggared and corrupt country for its golden anniversary of independence.
Edit: Louis Michel of the Walloon liberals calls Leopold II a hero. Leopold II (see picture) was one of the most brutal colonial rulers of the 19th century (article in dutch)
Bart De Wever of the New Flemish Alliance commenced today his negotiation talks which should lead to a preliminary accord on reforms of the Belgian state and a new federal government program. This morning Mr. De Wever was meeting Senate Speaker Armand Dedecker of the MR (Walloon liberal party). Mr. Dedecker reacted after the meeting in an optimistic way describing Mr. De Wever as very positive, very modern, very kindly, and intellectually open. At the same time his fellow party member Louis Michel was openly criticizing the New Flemish Alliance on Bel-RTL, a French-language radio station. Mr. Michel, a prominent member of the MR, was using a famous quote of François Mitterand “Nationalism is war” to explain his aversion for the party of De Wever. When Mitterand used these words back in 1995, he was in fact arguing to strengthen the federal powers of the European Union. Mr. Michel, a former European Commissioner by the way, seems not to have noticed yet that the New Flemish Alliance has always been manifestly pro-Europe. Last week at the party’s victory announcement a huge blue EU flag with one of the golden stars replaced by a Flemish lion was waving to pronounce their post-modern Europeanized nationalism. Mr. Michel might have overseen this for obvious reasons there he is a notorious member of B Plus, a Belgian nationalistic lobbying group.
After Bart De Wever, the leader of the nationalist New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), was asked last Friday by the king of Belgium to approach potential political partners, Mr. De Wever has agreed to take on the task of mediator to try to bring political parties together to form a new Belgian government. Still the French-media’s efforts to shape the public opinion keeps ongoing, all as part of a long-standing campaign to manipulate Walloon and international public perceptions of what has been happening in Belgium. All the propaganda weapons have now clearly been shifted from Yves Leterme (Flemish Christian democrats) who won the elections and led the coalition talks 3 years ago to Bart De Wever who won last week’s elections. Last Friday, a non-verbal communication ‘expert’ was invited by Rtlplus , a French-language broadcaster, to explain in primetime to the francophone viewers that Mr. De Wever is a conqueror, the emotionless leader of a clan, a populist and a man of uncompromising power, all these based on mere body language. Using meaningless news items as this and an amalgam of incidents a propaganda war is being waged to sustain the anti-Flemish feelings and maintain the Belgian standstill.
As a result of the phenomenal win in last week’s general elections the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) has to recruit a considerable number of new experts. One of the reported potential newcomers is Herman De Bode, ex-CEO of McKinsey Benelux. In 2005 De Bode was forced to resign for political reasons after he had put his signature under the famous Manifesto of a Flemish think-tank called In de Warande, named after the place where they usually meet. In the Manifesto, the think-tank lists, page after page, simple facts about the economic differences between Flanders and Wallonia, concluding that independence would be in the interest of both parties. The text was authored by a group of 50 businessmen and academics from Flanders, Even though Mr. De Bode had not used his position to promote or endorse his private political opinion he was forced to resign after threats by Francophone Belgian clients of the consulting company, including the Walloon regional government, that they would take their business elsewhere if De Bode remained in function.
La Dernière Heure , a daily French-language Belgian newspaper titled yesterday on their front page a remarkable header: ‘Beaten up because he can’t speak Flemish’. Reading inside the newspaper the details of this story reveals that everything was about a heated discussion regarding the girl friend of the Portugese victim leading to a fight. On the same cover of the newspaper a picture of Bart De Wever with another tendentious header “Discover the hidden face of Bart De Wever’ was published, perfectly blending these two pieces of misinformation together. Bart De Wever is the leader of the N-VA (New Flemish Alliance) who had won last Sunday’s elections in Flanders.
75% of the Flemish entrepreneurs are convinced that a reform of the Belgian state will help solving the economical problems. In a survey of Unizo, an organization of 80000 entrepreneurs, they are saying that a reform will create an environment facilitating the economical grow. The federated states need the right to decide for themselves on matters related to business settlement conditions, unemployment and company taxes. (article)
In financial surroundings rumours are going round that Luc Coene is worrying he can’t become the next Governor of the Belgian National Bank anymore. Coene was using hard words against the N-VA (New Flemish Alliance) shortly before the elections, violating his neutral position as Vice Governor. The N-VA won the general elections of last Sunday with 28% of the votes causing an electoral landslide in Flanders.
According to Luc Van Biesen of the Open VLD (Flemish Liberals), the detailed results of the general elections of last Sunday are showing that the influence of French-speaking politicians in Flanders is still growing and that a quick division of the unconstitutional electoral district B-H-V is needed. In the electoral district B-H-V (Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde) Flanders was able to keep 9 parliamentary seats only because less French-speaking expats than usually were voting abroad. French-speaking expats consequently add their votes to the B-H-V listings to support the francophone influence in B-H-V. The Belgian Constitutional Court ruled in 2003 that the B-H-V voting district is in contradiction with the provincial definition of the electoral districts of Belgium. In this unconstitutional electoral district, French-speaking voters living in a Flemish province can vote on politicians living outside Flanders while this isn’t possible the other way around.
In an interview with the financial newspaper De Tijd, Professor Bart Maddens (Catholic University of Leuven), the inventor of the so-called ‘Maddens Doctrine’, states that his own doctrine becomes obsolete after last Sunday’s elections. His “doctrine” was a strategy to achieve the big state reform that Flanders has been requesting for ages. Flanders should stop begging for something it cannot get. Instead, it should let things rot until the francophones realise that something must change. Maddens is saying today that Flanders should now switch back to the older ‘Van Rompuy Doctrine’, called to the current President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy. The ‘Van Rompuy Doctrine’ is saying that the Flemish political parties should go to the negotiations with the Walloon political parties making immediately clear that there will be no Belgian federal government without first reforming the federal state. According to Maddens in the same interview the following should be reformed: move the collection of the personal income tax from the Belgian federal level to Flanders and Wallonia, give the Brussels Region a less important role and let Flanders and Wallonia build there own health care systems.
After the N-VA (New Flemish Alliance) had won a stunning 28 per cent of the vote in Dutch-speaking Flanders on Sunday, miraculous waves of pampering comments in both parts of Belgium are flooding chairman Bart De Wever. Politicians and journalists who constantly reviled and abused Mr. De Wever before the elections, as he was the incarnation of the devil, are now making remarkable different analyses in the media. So for example the editor in Chief of the Flemish newspaper De Standaard is titling in an opinion piece that De Wever is capable to save and reform Belgium. Mrs. Onkelinx of the PS (Walloon Socialists) who ones compared the Flemish people with fungus and who is a very strong defender of the Belgian state is now -after a standstill of 3 years negotiating with less Flemish-minded parties- arguing that a compromise with the N-VA is feasible. The socialist mayor of Antwerp Mr. Janssens and Mrs. Thyssen, CD&V chairwoman are encouraging Mr. De Wever to become the prime minister of Belgium. For the time being Mr. De Wever is reacting very temperate on all these strategic moves by pointing out he is only interested in achieving the necessary constitutional reforms. Still according to a cautious Mr. De Wever nothing will be possible without constructive engagements of the other political parties. Who gets the role of prime minister is still not any of his concerns.
Belgium’s future as a federal state is seriously in doubt after the national elections. The country became completely divided in two different and incompatible democracies. In French-speaking Wallonia the socialists of the PS became the biggest party with 37% of the votes. In Dutch-speaking Flanders the centre-right N-VA (New Flemish Alliance) caused an electoral landslide with 28% of the votes. Above the ideological left-right contradictions between the South and North, the PS is a protagonist of the Belgian federal state and the N-VA is in favor of an independent Flemish republic as a member state of a democratic European confederation. Together with the more right wing VB and right liberals of LDD the Flemish nationalists are now emerging to 44% of all Flemish votes.
In the small Flemish town Voeren extremists has destroyed Flemish lion flags in the night between Friday and Saturday. They removed the flags from the official buildings and cut out the Flemish lion. Last week Joëlle Milquet of the CdH (Walloon Christian democrats) was whipping up anti-Flemish feelings of the French-language inhabitants by making door-to-door campaign with the message this Flemish town needs to be annexed by Wallonia.
The Wall Street Journal has published yesterday a biased article on Flanders, picturing in an striking trivial way the Flemish people as jackasses discriminating the ‘poor’ French-language immigrants. The journalist of this renowned newspaper surprisingly fails to show any useful background information and clearly mimics the misinformation generated by partisan French media in Wallonia, the other part of Belgium bordering France. The WSJ doesn’t provide the reader any meaningful underlying cultural,social or political information of Belgium. No word about the history of the Flemish movement, the contemporary French-language higher class crowding Flanders and pushing away the lower social Flemish class, the hospitals in Brussels-the bilingual capital- discriminating Flemish citizens inclusive children, the Walloon politicians claiming Flemish territory for linguistic purposes or the huge pressure of the French culture of giant neighbour France with powerful official bodies like the Académie Française to promote the French language… The WSJ journalist even doesn’t seem to know the situation in Quebec , Canada where much stricter language laws then in Flanders are protecting French as the normal and everyday language of work, instruction, communication, commerce and business.
Laurette Onkelinx, minister for the PS (french-language Walloon socialists) in the federal government admitted today to the press agency Belga she knows Bart De Wever only from the media. Bart De Wever of the N-VA (New Flemish Alliance) is by far the most popular politician in Flanders and frontrunner for the Belgian federal elections of Sunday. Whilst De Wever advocates only democratic and anti-revolutionary changes the combatant French-language media in Belgium are constantly cultivating and spreading the idea he is a dangerous and anti-democratic man. Mrs. Onckelinx –who hardly can speak Dutch-, is a strong French-language protagonist of the Belgian state.
An opinion poll by France-Soir, a French daily newspaper, revealed today that 66% of the French would be happy to see Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium, subsumed into France. Right-wing French politicians made already earlier openly the case for annexation. French-speaking Belgians, for their part, were earlier also coming round to the idea. If they were presented with a binary choice between joining France and going it alone, opinion polls suggested they would rather join France. Meanwhile Walloon politicians are claiming Flemish territory on the Belgian federal level, like a ‘French linguistic corridor’ between Wallonia and Brussels.
After last week killings of a judge and a court clerk inside a Brussels courtroom, the American news magazine Time spends this week an article on the collapse of law and order in Brussels. The article gives an overview of the surge of violence of last months in the Belgian capital and refers to the failing country’s institutions as one of the causes. The article concludes with “the linguistic struggle between the two main communities has led more or less to a standstill in federal policymaking. As a result, Belgium has a 19th century criminal-justice system.”
Luc Coene , has violated this evening his neutral position as Vice Governor of the National Bank by making political statements on the Flemish television. Coene attacked the New-Flemish Alliance (N-VA), a young political party in favour of a Flemish republic. This unlawful activity of the Vice Governor adds another fact to the rapidly increasing list of democratic deteriorations in Belgium.
The Financial Times has published today as ‘editor’s choice’ a piece on the political crisis in Belgium. The renowned British financial newspaper fears that another period of political uncertainty after next week’s elections may leave the Belgian debt mountain unattended. The newspaper warns also that with the coming elections the Belgian politics are even more unpredictable than ever before.
Belgian nationalists organized this afternoon a large and free concert in front of the Royal Palace in an attempt to influence the results of the federal elections of next Sunday. De Standaard newspaper reports this evening that only a few thousands spectators gathered in Brussels to see these 40 artists perform.
According to the Corelio newspapers at least 220 chairmen and assessors of the voting bureaus for the federal elections of next week will refuse service. They officially declared they don’t want to contribute to illegal elections. The Belgian Constitutional Court ruled in 2003 that the Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde voting district is illegal and in contradiction with the provincial definition of the electoral districts in Belgium. The Walloon politicians in the collapsed Federal government refused to vote the split of this discriminating and unlawful district as it gives them the possibility to collect votes in Flanders although they don’t live in Flanders.
Sabine Laruelle, minister of the MR (French-speaking liberal party) has sent a letter to the Flemish association of architects threatening them to take them to court. The reason is another Belgian community problem. The Flemish architects decided on a congress last year they want to establish there own autonomous Flemish council. This Flemish organisation would have to operate under a minister of the Flemish government instead of the Federal government. For this reason, Sabine Laruelle started blackmailing the Flemish architects. First she stopped paying these architects their wages and now she wants to file a complaint in court.
A popular rights activist Floribert Chebeya has died mysteriously in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was found partially naked on the back seat of his vehicle with traces of female hair and condoms. He is reported to have received threats from the police in the past. At the end of this month, Belgium’s king Albert II will join the celebrations of this beggared and corrupt country for its golden anniversary of independence.
Vice Prime Minister Joëlle Milquet of the Walloon party CDH started this morning in the newspaper La Libre Belgique again about it: she is repeating the demand of the PS (Walloon socialistic party) to give Wallonia a geographic link with Brussels by a ‘linguistic corridor’. According to her Wallonia has to be ready for when Belgium further disintegrates. A ‘French linguistic corridor’ over Flemish territory would connect Brussels geographically with Wallonia and France. Ironically, Joëlle Milquet goes to the Federal elections with the slogan ‘L’union fait la force’ , the French-language version of the national motto of Belgium ‘Strength Through Unity’.
In an official press release published today, the OVB, the association of all Flemish lawyers are questioning the legality of the next federal elections and are asking for an independent judicial body to examine the legality of it. The reason is a judgement of the Constitutional Court. It judged that the existence of a certain electoral district ( BHV ) as a constituency was in contradiction with the explicitly provincial definition of the electoral districts. In this unconstitutional electoral district, French-speaking voters living in a Flemish province can vote on politicians living outside Flanders.
Belgian nationalists are organizing a large concert on the 6th of June, in an attempt to influence the results of the federal elections of June 13, exact one week later. The free Belgavox concert ,as it is called, will be held from 1 to 6PM on the Place des Palais in Brussels, symbolically just in front of the Royal Palace.
A study revealed that a new European licence plate with yellow background and black font would give the best visibility. Aside the European stars on a blue background and the B of ‘Belgium’ , Flemish Secretary Of State Schouppe (CD&V) proposed to add also a red border around the license plate to represent the Belgian flag. Although The French community rejected this tricolore Belgian colour design because the yellow and black colours are to dominant and so to Flemish. Black and yellow are the colours of the Flemish lion flag.