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Hadja Lahbib replaces Sophie Wilmès as foreign affairs minister

16:41 15/07/2022

Hadja Lahbib replaces Sophie Wilmès in the federal government as Belgium’s minister of foreign affairs, reports Le Soir.

Wilmès took a leave of absence in April in order to be at the side of her husband who is suffering from brain cancer.

“My husband's illness will be a difficult battle that I want to fight at his side and at the side of our children,” she said on Thursday. “It is with great emotion that I always think of those who are also fighting against the disease.”

Hadja Lahbib (MR), a former presenter for RTBF news, was announced as fellow liberal Wilmès’ replacement at a press conference organised by francophone liberal party (MR) on Friday.

“It will be an honour to be the face of Belgium abroad,” she said, presenting herself as "neither left nor right, I am fundamentally free," before adding that she remained "captain of her soul".

Lahbib was sworn in by Belgium’s King Philippe as minister of foreign affairs, European affairs and foreign trade, and federal cultural institutions.

Other names that circulated prior to the decision, included Alexia Bertrand from the Brussels parliament and Geneviève Tuts, Didier Reynders' chief of staff at the European Union. 

Valérie Glatigny was also nominated, but said she did not intend to leave the Walloon-Brussels Federation before the end of her mandate at the Ministry of Higher Education. 

David Clarinval will remain deputy prime minister, a role he inherited after Wilmès first went on leave. 

 

Written by Helen Lyons