Belgian king approves new government

March 20th, 2008 - 9:09 pm ICT by admin  

Brussels, March 20 (DPA) Belgium’s King Albert II Thursday approved the appointment of Flemish conservative Yves Leterme as the country’s new prime minister, backing his five-party coalition government and accepting the resignation of acting prime minister Guy Verhofstadt.
“The king received the prime minister, Verhofstadt, in audience this morning… (He) accepted Verhofstadt’s resignation from his prime ministerial functions and on his proposal nominated Yves Leterme as prime minister,” a statement from the royal palace read.

Shortly after appointing Leterme, the king also gave his seal of approval to the new premier’s government of 14 ministers and seven state secretaries. Ten of the 14 ministers served in Verhofstadt’s interim government.

The king’s formal decision puts Belgium on the brink of solving the longest-running political crisis in recent history, over nine months after Belgians went to the polls in a general election.

In that poll, voters ousted the liberal Verhofstadt, the winner of the last two elections. Leterme, a conservative politician from the Dutch-speaking majority, won a surprise victory, and the king nominated him to form the next government.

However, coalition talks repeatedly foundered over differences between Belgium’s Dutch-speaking majority and French-speaking minority.

In December, Leterme resigned the task of forming a government. The king appointed Verhofstadt to run a caretaker administration while Leterme continued coalition talks.

On Tuesday five parties - the Dutch- and French-speaking conservatives and liberals and the French-speaking socialists - announced that they had hammered out a coalition deal.

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