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Belgium’s king warns of serious political crisis

Belgium’s King Albert II on Friday urged the country’s political leaders to find a way out of a deepening political crisis, a day after a bid to end a 13-month stalemate fell apart.

“Given the gravity of the political situation, the king wishes that each of the country’s political leaders take a few days of reflection to measure the consequences of the political situation and seek avenues towards a solution,” a palace statement said.

His statement followed talks with French-speaking Socialist leader Elio Di Rupo, who was asked to form a government mid-May in Albert II’s latest attempt to end a crisis that has left the country in the hands of a caretaker government for almost 13 months.

But a position paper drafted by Di Rupo that was to serve as the basis for a coalition government was rejected Thursday by the country’s largest party, the Flemish separatist N-VA.

After months of tense and trying negotiations, the move underlined the widening gulf between the wealthier 6.2 million Dutch-speakers in northern Flanders and the 4.5 million French-speakers of struggling Wallonia.

The palace statement also said Di Rupo had asked the king to be relieved of the mission to form a government.

“The king has suspended his decision,” the statement said.