March 6, 1908
Brussels, March 5-
The text of the new Congo annexation treaty was submitted to Parliament to-day and sent to committee without debate. According to the terms of the new treaty, King Leopold agrees to abandon the Crown domain and the Crown Foundation to Belgium. Belgium on its part must not only assume all the Congo obligations, amounting to $21,000,000, but must undertake also to continue the King’s usufruct in the Congo revenues during his lifetime.
Belgium is specifically required to respect the concessions granted in 1906 to two American companies in which Thomas F. Ryan is interested.
The Congo revenues are charged with $24,000 a year, payable to Prince Albert, nephew of King Leopold and $15,000 a year payable to Princess Clementine, the King’s third daughter, and as a especial token of gratitude to the King, must provide the sum of $10,000,000 in fifteen annual installments for the King’s use in constructing hospitals and schools and forwarding scientific work in Africa.
Furthermore, Belgium must expend the sum of $9,000,000 in work for which contracts already have been made. In addition King Leopold retains in fee simple $40,000 hectares of land at Mayumbe for coffee and cocoa growing experiments and during his lifetime he is to enjoy his interests in the Congo concesssionary companies and the property in Belgium and France which he purchased out of the funds of th e Congo Foundation. Upon the death of the King, all his property will revert to Belgium.
In spite of the criticism of the Opposition, the prevailing impression in Parliamentary circles regarding the King’s concessions assure the ratification of the treaty. The King’s friends naturally regard the treaty as it now stands as exceedingly magnanimous. Baron Des champs, the Minister of State, said tonight:
The King presents to the nation as a gift of colony twenty-three times as big as Belgium which he created and organized. Of the Crown domain, which is larger than France and of extraordinary richness, he retains nothing. Besides, he gives to the nation beautiful properties in the South of France which he purchased with the revenues from the Crown Domain, only holding for himself the usafruct during his lifetime. More important still, he grants to the Belgian Parliament both the administrative and budgetary control of th colony, which should satisfy the foreign critics.
“In return, he simply exacts an obligation that Belgium complete the works undertaken by him in this country and his philanthropic and scientific projects in the Congo Independent State.”
Should the parliament now refuse to ratify the treaty, it is believed here that King Leopold, in order to escape foreign intervention would offer the Congo to France, case Belgium refuses to annex it.