Pierre Legros, an advisor to Prince Laurent who accompanied him, has tried to play down what has happened, but VRT News has now learnt that Prince Laurent also met with Congolese President Joseph Kabila.
During his controversial trip Prince Laurent met several provincial governors too and during part of his journey he was accompanied by the Congolese Planning Minister Olivier Kamitatu. Mr Legros says that the Planning Minister is one of his personal friends and that the Congolese Minister was only doing him a favour by accompanying the prince.
The prince, who says he does not understand the commotion, insists that the trip was intended to study deforestation in the former colony. Mr Legros has however confirmed that the prince also visited an oil refinery and a mining project.
Prince Laurent maintains his trip was a private one, though many commentators suggest that a man in his position cannot make such a journey without political implications.
Herman De Croo, veteran elder statesman of the Flemish liberal party and somebody close to the prince, advised him against the trip. Mr De Coo insisted that the visit was inopportune given the forthcoming elections in Congo. The former cabinet minister believes that sooner or later the money that the prince receives from the public purse will be limited.
Prime Minister issues ultimatum
Premier Leterme has issued an ultimatum to Prince Laurent if he wishes to hang on to the monies that he receives from the public purse. The premier insisted that the prince should stick to his role.
Mr Leterme was quizzed about Prince Laurent's trip during Prime Minister's questions in Parliament. Mr Leterme confirmed that the prince had seen Congo's President Kabila, but the prince told the premier that politics had not been discussed.
Mr Leterme intends to meet with the prince soon. The premier told lawmakers that the prince should take account of the delicate balance between his rights and duties. It is especially among Flemish lawmakers that the prince's controversial trip led to uproar.
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