No Belgian reform proposals until September
The three senior politicians have been given till end September to work on mending the fragile relations between the political groups in Belgium.31 July 2008
BRUSSELS - Belgium should not expect any proposals on the explosive question of state reform until at least mid-September, the royal palace said Thursday after King Albert II met three "wise men" tasked with the question.
In a meeting at the palace, the three senior politicians, who have been handed the sensitive task of proposing a new division of powers between the federal government and the fractious regions, "said that they had made progress in their mission," and that they were "ready to continue their work," a statement from the palace said.
The king "asked them to report to him in the second half of September," the statement said.
Belgium is engaged in a long-running feud between the Dutch- speaking majority and French-speaking minority over the distribution of powers between the capital, Brussels, and the regions.
In June 2007, Dutch-speaking advocates of more regional power scored a surprise victory in parliamentary elections. However, the question of state reform poisoned coalition talks, leaving the government of Yves Leterme - finally formed in March - unable to forge consensus on the issue.
In mid-July Leterme offered to resign, but his move was rejected by the king. Instead, he was charged with handling economic and social issues while three senior colleagues addressed the reform question.
The trio are Ministers of State Francois-Xavier de Donnea and Raymond Langendries, and the prime minister of the German-speaking minority, Karl-Heinz Lambertz.
Their mission is "to examine how guarantees can be offered to launch an institutional dialogue in a credible way".
[dpa / Expatica]
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