Earlier this year, the Congolese government declared European development commissioner Karel De Gucht persona non grata because of comments he made to the European Parliament, stating that the weakness of the Congolese state meant that EU aid had limited impact. Kinshasa dubbed De Gucht’s comments as ‘racist, disrespectful and irresponsible,’ barring him from entering the DRC. This wasn’t the first time. Six years ago he had already been called a ‘Tintin minister’.
We’re almost a year later. De Gucht has swapped portfolios, now being the European trade commissioner, and the Congolese government seems to have forgotten about their earlier ban. How do we know?
Some days ago, De Gucht participated in a debate on the current state of play of the Economic Partnership Agreements at the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in Kinshasa. This is how he was greeted by some street vendors:
– Tom Devriendt