Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmès has said that she will temporarily step down from the role to care for her ill husband. Wilmès’ partner Christopher has been diagnosed with “aggressive brain cancer”, she said in a letter on Thursday.
The deputy prime minister said her job demanded “rigour, availability, and total commitment that will not allow me to provide help and comfort that Christopher and our children will need”.
“I want to be there for him like he has always been there for us,” she added.
The 47-year-old said that the “immediate” decision had been made after “full consultation with the Prime Minister and my party”.
Wilmes served as Belgium’s first female prime minister from 2019 to 2020 before becoming foreign minister. Her portfolio will be taken on temporarily by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Wilmès “will remain officially a member of the federal government during this period”, De Croo said, adding that her choice “commands the greatest respect”.
On April 21, 2022, The Prime wrote a letter on her Twitter handle that “Being a minister requires discipline, availability and total dedication, which would prevent me from providing the help and comfort that Christopher and our children need during this difficult time. I want to be there for him as he has always been there for us and fight this battle with him and our children.”
Therefore, she writes, she has decided, in full consultation with the Prime Minister and her party, to step down from her current ministerial position without pay immediately. “This will allow us to observe our position until the summer.”
“Take care of yourself,” concluded Wilmes.