President Tshisekedi’s Official Visit to Brussels

On February 28, 2024, President Félix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) embarked on an official visit to Belgium. The President’s arrival in Brussels early this morning set the stage for his meeting with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. Their discussions focused on bolstering bilateral cooperation, addressing mutual interests, and confronting the alarming security challenges in the eastern regions of the DRC.

This visit occurs at an important time, as Belgium currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Council for six months. Belgium’s strategic position within the European Union (EU) underscores the critical nature of these discussions, particularly in light of recent tensions between the DRC and the EU. These tensions escalated following the EU’s cooperation agreement with Rwanda on mineral exploitation, a move that has drawn sharp criticism from Congolese authorities.

The agreement has been contentious, viewed by the DRC as a failure to meet its expectations in a context where Rwanda faces ongoing accusations of human rights violations and resource plundering in its involvement in eastern DRC. Numerous reports by United Nations experts and Western countries have indicated Rwanda’s military support for the M23 rebels, who control parts of the mineral-rich North Kivu region.

President Tshisekedi’s journey to Brussels represents more than a platform to address these critical issues; it is an opportunity to strengthen the ties between the DRC and its European partners. Beyond their bilateral talks, President Tshisekedi and Prime Minister De Croo are scheduled for an expanded working session with their respective delegations. This meeting aims to develop shared strategies for enhanced cooperation, mindful of the specific concerns of each party.