Belgium’s King Phillipe has arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for his first official visit to the central African nation.
The monarch has been accompanied by his wife Queen Mathilde and senior government officials to foster stronger ties with his country’s former colony.
The Belgian royals were given a warm welcome upon landing at the Ndjili International Airport in the DRC capital, Kinshasa, for their six-day visit.
King Philippe’s visit to the DRC is his first since he ascended the throne in 2013. It is widely seen as an attempt at reconciliation following a harsh colonial rule under his ancestor King Leopold II.
Historians estimate that up to 10 million Congolese were killed between 1885 and 1908 when King Leopold II was the absolute ruler of what was then known as the Congo Free State.
King Phillippe is scheduled to lay a wreath at a Congolese war memorial ground and deliver a speech to parliament on Wednesday. Although his trip is aimed at forging stronger ties between the DRC and Belgium, not everyone is happy about his visit.
Some Congolese have been calling for reparations for the atrocities committed during the colonial period.
Belgian authorities last year agreed to return the remains of a Congolese independence hero Patrice Lumumba who was killed in 1961 for his anti-colonial stance.
The visit of the Belgian royals was scheduled to take place in June 2020 but it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. (SABC)