Belgium king asks mediator for fresh try at government

11th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Belgium's King Albert II on Wednesday asked his mediator to help the country's two rival political leaders end a stand-off that has left the country without a government for almost seven months.

A palace statement said the sovereign had asked Johan Vande Lanotte "to take all useful initiative" with the help of political leaders from the Dutch-speaking north and French-speaking south "to end the current political impasse as speedily as possible."

"In this way we can preserve the well-being of all the citizens of our country," the statement said, adding that Vande Lanotte had accepted the mission.

Belgium has been rudderless for 212 days -- a post-war European record -- since an inconclusive June 13 election.

The ongoing deadlock has opened the country of 10 million to attack from financial markets with borrowing costs soaring to record heights earlier Tuesday.

After feuding politicians failed to strike a highly-awaited government coalition deal last week, Vande Lanotte had tendered his resignation in frustration.

But he had been widely expected to be tasked by Albert II to continue.

A palace spokesman told AFP that the go-between had held "constructive" talks Monday with Belgium's leading political opponents -- Elio Di Rupo, a French-speaking Socialist, and Bart De Weever, head of the Dutch-speaking separatist NV-A.

© 2011 AFP

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