Belgium denies king planned to abdicate
Belgium's royal palace quashed rumours on Tuesday that King Albert II had plans to abdicate and hand the throne to his son, Prince Philippe, in December.
The Flemish-language newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws reported that the king had intended to step down but abandoned the idea because of deepening political uncertainty in the linguistically-divided nation, caused by the failure to form a new government.
"This issue is not on the agenda," palace spokesman Pierre-Emmanuel De Bauw told AFP, refusing further comment.
The king has had to name several negotiators and mediators to keep on-and-off talks between Flemish and francophone parties alive since inconclusive June elections.
The seven-party negotiations hit a new roadblock Monday when a political plan proposed by Flemish nationalist leader Bart De Wever, whose party triumphed in the elections, was rejected by French-speaking parties.
The failure to bridge differences has raised the possibility that the kingdom could split up, with Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia going their separate ways.
© 2010 AFP