Mediator announces breakthrough in Belgian political crisis

15th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

The politician tasked with negotiating with Belgium's main political parties to resolve the country's long-running political crisis announced a breakthrough in talks late Wednesday.

The eight parties locked in the talks had made a "first decisive step" towards a way out of the crisis that has left the country without a government for well over a year, socialist leader Elio Di Rupo said.

"The eight parties have together succeeded in overcoming the obstacles which have created difficulties these last few days," Di Rupo said in a statement issued following a day of tense negotiations.

The country's political crisis intensified late Tuesday when caretaker premier Yves Leterme announced he would step down to run for a senior job at the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

King Albert II, who has played a lead role in 15 months of efforts to strike a deal between Belgium's two feuding language communities, cut short his vacation in southern France to head back home.

The king had appointed Di Rupo, leader of the country's second major party, the French-speaking Socialists, to negotiate a consensus deal as a platform for a governing coalition.

But hours after Leterme said he was quitting, Di Rupo warned in a pre-dawn statement Wednesday that his four-month drive to find a government for Belgium looked to be heading for breakdown.

But after reporting that the talks were in "deep blockage" following more than 15 hours of talks, he was finally able to announce a breakthrough.

© 2011 AFP

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