Laurette Onkelinx

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Laurette Onkelinx
Laurette Onkelinx 675.jpg
Minister of Social Affairs and Health
Incumbent
Assumed office
21 December 2007
Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt
Yves Leterme
Herman Van Rompuy
Yves Leterme
Elio Di Rupo
Preceded by Rudy Demotte
Minister of Justice
In office
11 July 2003 – 21 December 2007
Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt
Preceded by Marc Verwilghen
Succeeded by Jo Vandeurzen
Minister of Labour and Transport
In office
5 May 2003 – 11 July 2003
Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt
Preceded by Herself (Labour)
Isabelle Durant (Transport)
Succeeded by Peter Vanvelthoven (Labour)
Renaat Landuyt (Transport)
Minister of Labour
In office
13 July 1999 – 5 May 2003
Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt
Preceded by Miet Smet
Succeeded by Herself (Labour and Transport)
Minister-President of the French Community
In office
6 May 1993 – 13 July 1999
Preceded by Bernard Anselme
Succeeded by Hervé Hasquin
Minister of Social Integration, Public Health and Environment
In office
7 March 1992 – 6 May 1993
Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene
Preceded by Philippe Busquin
Succeeded by Jacques Santkin
Personal details
Born (1958-10-02) 2 October 1958 (age 55)
Ougrée, Belgium
Political party Socialist Party
Spouse(s) Abbès Guenned (Divorced)
Marc Uyttendaele
Alma mater University of Liège

Laurette A.J. Onkelinx (born 2 October 1958 in Ougrée) is a Belgian politician from the Francophone Socialist Party. She is the Deputy Prime Minister - Minister of Social Affairs and Public Health in the Belgian federal government, i.e., the Di Rupo Government, which took office on 6 December 2011.[1]

Biography[edit]

Born to Gaston Onkelinx and Germaine Ali Bakir, of Kabyle origin, she graduated in law at the University of Liège after which she worked as a lawyer for 10 years. At the age of 30 she was elected to the Belgian Chamber of Representatives.[2]

Her father, Gaston Onkelinx, originally a Dutch-speaking migrant from Flemish Limburg to francophone Wallonia, has long been mayor of Seraing (near Liège) and member of the House of Representatives (1974–1987). Her older brother, Alain Onkelinx, has been a member of the Regional Parliament of Wallonia since September 2005. She speaks French and Dutch.

Controversy[edit]

When Turkish terrorist Fehriye Erdal was sentenced to four years imprisonment by a Bruges court on 28 February 2006, it turned out that she had shaken off the Belgian secret service, which had the responsibility of following her since 23 February 2006 (Erdal had been under house arrest since 2000, and living in the same building as the DHKP-C secretariat). Both Laurette Onkelinx and Minister of the Interior Patrick Dewael have come under fire for this incident; the Christian Democratic and Flemish party (CD&V) and Vlaams Belang demanded the resignation of both of them on 6 March 2006.

In July 2006, Onkelinx came under heavy political fire again when one of Belgian's most notorious criminals, Murat Kaplan, did not return from a weekend-leave, which she signed off. In August 2006 she came again under heavy fire when 28 prisoners managed to escape from a prison in Dendermonde. In September 2006, it was reported that the criminal Victor Hoxha had returned to Belgium - he was deported earlier from Belgium in 2006, and told not to return for ten years. Prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, of the Flemish Liberals and Democrats (VLD), has now asked the minister to refrain from releasing any criminals prematurely in the coming three months, but she refuses this demand. This comes just before the government prepares its budget for the coming year, and the October municipal elections.

CD&V and Vlaams Belang again had asked the resignation of the minister, but it is unknown how far the VLD will go in supporting the minister (and accordingly, the current federal government). On 23 September, it was reported that another criminal did not return from day-leave. Tony Van Parys, of the CD&V party, called it "incomprehensible that someone like Azzouzi [criminal in question] would get penitentiary leave." The cabinet's crisis was averted the next week, when a deal was struck between the VLD and PS, allowing criminals only to be released on parole, in the next months, after consent by their victim (or the victim's family).

On 6 October, two days before the Belgian municipal elections, Laurette Onkelinx was hit with a pie at an election event in Schaarbeek. The perpetrator was Benito Franscesconi, a 78-year old man, who has a history of "civil disobiedence." Franscesconi has made himself a civil party to many court cases in which he had no direct interest.

First married to Abbès Guenned, a Belgian of Moroccan descent, she divorced him in 1997-1998, Morocco asked for his extradition, accusing him of drug trafficking (Guenned was stopped on 31 July 1997 at the airport of Zaventem, while being in the possession of a diplomatic passport), a charge which has since been dropped. He was also arrested in Turkey but released after strong influence from the Belgian government.[3][4] At that time, Onkelinx was presiding over the government of Belgium's French Community. Onkelinx then married barrister Marc Uyttendaele. Witnesses to this marriage were both their former husband and wife. In 2003, Guenned became an adviser to Onkelinx' cabinet, charged with the preparation of the election of the Belgian advisory Muslim council, and dealing with town management but, especially, with the communication between the cabinet and the Islamic associations.

In 2009, she criticized Pope Benedict XVI over his comments that condoms distribution without prior education only worsen the AIDS crisis.[5]

Political career[edit]

First elected to the Belgian House of Representatives in 1988, she has held several ministerial posts without any interruption since 1992:

  • Minister of Social Integration, Public Health and Environment (1992–1993)
  • Minister-President and Minister of the Civil Service, Child's healthcare and Promotion of Health in the French Community (1993–1995)
  • Minister-President and Minister of Education, Media, Youth, Child's healthcare and Promotion of Health in the French Community (1995–1999)
  • Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour (1999–2003)
  • Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour and Transport (2003)
  • Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice (July 2003 - December 2007)
  • Minister of Social Affairs and Public Health (December 2007 - current)

References and sources[edit]

  1. ^ "20 March 2008 – Royal Orders. Government – Dismissals – Appointments" (in Dutch/French). The Belgian Official Journal. 2008-03-21. pp. 3–4. Retrieved 2008-03-30. 
  2. ^ (Dutch) Belga, Biografie Laurette Onkelinx (PS), De Morgen, 20 December 2007
  3. ^ "Belçika ile bakan kocası krizi" (in Turkish). Hürriyet. 26 July 1998. Retrieved 26 July 2010.  Arrest of husband published in Turkish daily Hurriet
  4. ^ Arrest of husband in Turkey[dead link]
  5. ^ La Croix article[dead link]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Philippe Busquin
Minister of Social Integration, Public Health and Environment
1992–1993
Succeeded by
Jacques Santkin
Preceded by
Bernard Anselme
Minister-President of the French Community
1993–1999
Succeeded by
Hervé Hasquin
Preceded by
Miet Smet
Minister of Labour
1999–2003
Succeeded by
Herself
as Minister of Labour and Transport
Preceded by
Herself
as Minister of Labour
Minister of Labour and Transport
2003
Succeeded by
Peter Vanvelthoven
as Minister of Labour
Preceded by
Isabelle Durant
as Minister of Transport
Succeeded by
Renaat Landuyt
as Minister of Transport
Preceded by
Marc Verwilghen
Minister of Justice
2003–2007
Succeeded by
Jo Vandeurzen
Preceded by
Rudy Demotte
Minister of Social Affairs and Public Health
2007–present
Incumbent