Thursday, March 24, 2016

Belgian PM refuses resignation of two key ministers

Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon and Justice Minister Koen Geens on Thursday offered their resignation to Prime Minister Charles Michel, who refused, Belgian media reported.

Their offer to step down came after reports of an apparent catalogue of errors relating to the surveillance of Ibrahim El Bakraoui, one of the two suicide bombers at Brussels airport on Tuesday.

Interviewed on Thursday by Belgian newspaper Le Soir, Jambon explained his decision: "I have submitted my resignation. Mr Geens has done the same. They were rejected. We continue. There were two kinds of error. At the justice ministry and at the Turkish liaison office, which involves the interior and justice ministries. But for now, we continue our work."

  • A ministerial committee met on Thursday afternoon to look at the case of Ibrahim El Bakraoui, after Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey had warned Belgium about El Bakraoui's dangerous nature and suspected jihadist tendencies when he was expelled from Turkey in summer 2015, bound for the Netherlands.
  • According to reports, President Erdogan said that Belgium and the Netherlands have not taken the threat seriously.
According to La Libre Belgique newspaper, Ibrahim El Bakraoui was known to Belgian judicial authorities and had been sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2010 on charges of robbery and firing at police. He was later released on bail against the advice of the prison service.

  • Michel said on Thursday: "The government will work with the parliament to ensure total transparency."

The Belgian Terrorism Committee will meet on Friday, followed by a joint committee with the internal affairs, justice and interior ministers to discuss the case. An investigatory committee should be set up following that meeting.



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