Leterme given until Thursday
20 August 2007, BRUSSELS (AP) - Belgium's would-be prime minister faces a Thursday deadline to try to end a deadlock over the formation of a new government.
20 August 2007
BRUSSELS (AP) - Belgium's would-be prime minister faces a Thursday deadline to try to end a deadlock over the formation of a new government.
The talks, which have dragged on since 16 July, ground to a halt last week when French-speaking politicians rejected demands by their Dutch-speaking counterparts for more self-rule in the Flanders region.
The issue has long been a deal breaker in the politics of this bilingual nation of 10.5 million people.
King Albert failed over the weekend to nudge leaders of the Christian Democrat and Liberal parties - each split into Dutch- and French-speaking camps - toward a deal in private consultations.
That led Didier Reynders, a Francophone Liberal and key player in the talks, to give the would-be prime minister, Yves Leterme, a Dutch-speaking Christian Democrat, until Thursday to draft a complete government program and propose a solution to the self-rule issue.
Reynders' demand is unlikely to be ignored, given that the negotiations have stalled and his support is important to Leterme's bid to form a four-party, centre-right government.
If Leterme does not meet that informal deadline, he would be expected to give up his mandate. The king would then have to name someone else to try to form a government.
"It has to be possible to find compromises" by Thursday, said Reynders, the outgoing finance minister.
The two parties won the most votes in 13 June elections. They want to succeed the centre-left government of Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt.
But their negotiations fell into a stalemate last week when Francophone negotiators rejected Dutch-speaking parties' demands for more self-rule in employment, transport, justice and other areas.
[Copyright AP 2007]
Subject: Belgian news