Laurette A. J. Onkelinx (born 2 October 1958) is a Belgian politician from the Francophone Socialist Party. She was 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]

Laurette Onkelinx
Minister of Social Affairs and Health
In office
21 December 2007 – 11 October 2014
Prime MinisterGuy Verhofstadt
Yves Leterme
Herman Van Rompuy
Yves Leterme
Elio Di Rupo
Preceded byRudy Demotte
Succeeded byMaggie De Block
Minister of Justice
In office
11 July 2003 – 21 December 2007
Prime MinisterGuy Verhofstadt
Preceded byMarc Verwilghen
Succeeded byJo Vandeurzen
Minister of Labour and Transport
In office
5 May 2003 – 11 July 2003
Prime MinisterGuy Verhofstadt
Preceded byHerself (Labour)
Isabelle Durant (Transport)
Succeeded byPeter Vanvelthoven (Labour)
Renaat Landuyt (Transport)
Minister of Labour
In office
13 July 1999 – 5 May 2003
Prime MinisterGuy Verhofstadt
Preceded byMiet Smet
Succeeded byHerself (Labour and Transport)
Minister-President of the French Community
In office
6 May 1993 – 13 July 1999
Preceded byBernard Anselme
Succeeded byHervé Hasquin
Minister of Social Integration, Public Health and Environment
In office
7 March 1992 – 6 May 1993
Prime MinisterJean-Luc Dehaene
Preceded byPhilippe Busquin
Succeeded byJacques Santkin
Personal details
Born (1958-10-02) 2 October 1958 (age 65)
Ougrée, Belgium
Political partySocialist Party
Spouse(s)Abbès Guenned (Divorced)
Marc Uyttendaele
EducationUniversity of Liège

Biography edit

Born in Ougrée to Gaston Onkelinx [fr] and Germaine Ali Bakir, of Kabyle origin, she graduated in law at the University of Liège, after which she worked as a lawyer for ten 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 grandfather, Maurice Onkelinx, was alderman and mayor of Jeuk in Limburg and lost his civil rights for some years after the Second World War. 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 came 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 had 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 had been deported from Belgium earlier in 2006, and told not to return for ten years. Prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, of the Flemish Liberals and Democrats (VLD), asked the minister to refrain from releasing any criminals prematurely in the coming three months, but she refused this demand. This came just before the government was to prepare its budget for the coming year, and the October municipal elections.

CD&V and Vlaams Belang again called for the resignation of the minister, but it was unknown how far the VLD would go in supporting the minister (and accordingly, the then 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 [the 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 Schaerbeek. The perpetrator was Benito Franscesconi, a 78-year-old man, who has a history of "civil disobedience." 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, Onkelinx divorced him in 1997–1998; Morocco asked for Guenned's extradition, accusing him of drug trafficking (he was stopped on 31 July 1997 at Zaventem airport, while in possession of a diplomatic passport), a charge which was later 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 [fr]. 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 communication between the cabinet and the Islamic associations.

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

In 2014, it was revealed that her Ministry had hired the firm of her own husband, Marc Uyttendaele [fr], as a legal consultant, at a cost of 245,000 euros.[6]

On 13 September 2017, Onkelincx announced she would not be a candidate for the 2019 elections.[7]

Political career edit

First elected to the Belgian House of Representatives in 1988, she held several ministerial posts without any interruption from 1992 until 2014:

  • Minister of Social Integration, Public Health and Environment (1992–1993)
  • Minister-President and Minister of the Civil Service, Child Healthcare and Promotion of Health in the French Community (1993–1995)
  • Minister-President and Minister of Education, Media, Youth, Child 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 – October 2014)

References and sources edit

  1. ^ "20 March 2008 – Royal Orders. Government – Dismissals – Appointments" (PDF) (in Dutch and French). The Belgian Official Journal. 21 March 2008. pp. 3–4. Retrieved 30 March 2008.
  2. ^ (Dutch) Belga, "Biografie Laurette Onkelinx (PS)". Archived from the original on 23 December 2007. Retrieved 1 June 2016., 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. ^ Belçikalı Bakan eşi krize yol açtı, Milliyet, 15 August 1998
  5. ^ [1] Archived 22 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Belga. "Uyttendaele a facturé 860 000 euros au Fédéral".
  7. ^ "Keihard in onderhandelingen, loyaal in het compromis". De Tijd (in Dutch). 13 September 2017. Retrieved 13 September 2017.

External links edit

  Media related to Laurette Onkelinx at Wikimedia Commons

Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Social Integration, Public Health and Environment
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister-President of the French Community
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Labour
Succeeded by
as Minister of Labour and Transport
Preceded by
as Minister of Labour
Minister of Labour and Transport
Succeeded byas Minister of Labour
Preceded byas Minister of Transport Succeeded byas Minister of Transport
Preceded by Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Social Affairs and Public Health
Succeeded by