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French communitypresident resigns

Published on 25/10/2004

25 October 2004

BRUSSELS – The president of the Walloon parliament has resigned following a weekend of political turmoil.

Socialist Isabelle Simonis stepped down after the newspaper Le Soir accused her on Saturday of planning a campaign to encourage foreigners to vote for political reasons.

The paper said it had seen a note by one of Simonis’ assistants which said she wanted to make non-EU citizens in Belgium aware of their right to vote for the first time.

However, she also wanted the information campaign to be used to “attract the vote of foreigners to the PS”, it claimed.

Opposition parties have called for questions to be answered on the matter.

However, Simonis has denied she was acting politically, stating that the campaign would have benefited all democratic political parties.

She resigned on the grounds that the comment reported in Le Soir could have given the impression she was acting politically.

She will be replaced by Jean-Francois Istasse, head of the PS group in the French-speaking parliament. Simonis will continue to be a member of the parliament.

The PS president Elio di Rupo praised Simonis for stepping down to avoid the party’s reputation being damaged. However, he insisted: “She has not done any wrong.”

“I think she wanted to carry out a serious task in favour of our citizens. Someone wanted to see a political dimension to it that no one was asking for.”

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news