Budget talks cancelled in conflict over parole system
21 September 2006, BRUSSELS — Federal government budget talks were postponed on Thursday afternoon until a conflict between coalition partners the Liberal VLD and Socialist PS is resolved. But the cabinet meeting was held in the morning despite the controversy around deported Albanian gangster Victor Hoxha.
21 September 2006
BRUSSELS — Federal government budget talks were postponed on Thursday afternoon until a conflict between coalition partners the Liberal VLD and Socialist PS is resolved.
But the cabinet meeting was held in the morning despite the controversy around deported Albanian gangster Victor Hoxha.
The convicted gangster was granted parole at the end of last year on the condition that he left the country and never returned. Otherwise, he would have to serve out the rest of his sentence.
However, Hoxha was allegedly sighted in Antwerp recently but justice authorities failed to arrest him, sparking heated criticism.
The VLD is now demanding that no serious offenders be granted early release until new parole courts are established in January.
But Socialist PS Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx has refused to bow to the VLD ultimatum.
VLD Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and Onkelinx will now enter into talks in coming days to resolve the dispute.
The usual cabinet meeting was held at 10am, but the budget meeting was called off at about 12.30pm on Friday, with about 20 items left undiscussed.
PS Social Affairs Minister Rudy Demotte said the conflict between the PS and VLD was not discussed at the cabinet meeting.
Demotte said that there was still confidence between the coalition partners and that they wanted to remain in government together.
He ruled out any talk of a crisis, news agency Belga reported.
Socialist SP.A Transport Minister Renaat Landuyt was less positive, however, admitting that the conflict had impacted upon the atmosphere within the government.
He said the tension at the cabinet meeting was noticeable.
SP.A Deputy Prime Minister Freya Van den Bossche said she had attended a relaxed cabinet meeting.
However, she said discussions around the 2006 and 2007 budgets had been cancelled.
Minister Onkelinx was tightlipped after the meeting, but admitted negotiations will be held with Verhofstadt in coming days.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news