The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has ordered Belgium to close it’s consulate in the country and cut flights by Brussels Airlines, Belgium’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
In a sign of further deterioration of relations between Belgium and DRC, Belgium closed its consulate in the southeastern city of Lubumbashi after being told to do so by Kinshasa, a Belgian foreign ministry spokesman said.
Congo had also decided to close its consulate in the northern Belgian city of Antwerp.
The foreign ministry also confirmed that Brussels Airlines, owned by Germany’s Lufthansa, has had its flight to and from Kinshasa cut to four per week from seven.
The airline said it had been told by Congolese authorities the reduction was because of an absence of reciprocity in international air services between the two countries.
Congo’s foreign ministry was not immediately available for comment.
Relations have worsened since the start of the year, when Belgium decided to end cooperation on a number of projects with the Congolese government over concerns about the human rights and security situation there.
The 25 million euros allocated for such projects have been redirected to non-government organisations working on humanitarian aid in the country.
Congo’s president Joseph Kabila refused to step down when his mandate expired in December 2016, stoking violence and raising the spectre of the vast, mineral-rich nation tumbling back into the kind of wars that killed millions in the 1990s, mostly from hunger and disease.
Kabila’s information minister however said that the president intends to respect the constitution and hand over power after the December 2018 elections.