Belgium's king moves to give divided country a government

16th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

King Albert II moved Monday to give language-divided Belgium a government following almost a year of failed coalition talks between the French-speaking south and Dutch-speaking north.

A statement from the palace said the sovereign had asked Elio Di Rupo, head of the French-speaking Socialist party, to form a government. "Mr Di Rupo accepted," the statement said.

Di Rupo's party led the field in the French-speaking south at general elections June 13, 2010, that failed to produce an outright majority.

The other big winner at that election was the separatist Flemish N-VA party headed by hardliner Bart De Wever.

Successive efforts to form a workable coalition have broken down repeatedly ever since, with Albert II naming a successoion of special negotiators who have returned empty-handed to the palace one after the other.

Should Di Rupo bring off the challenge in the divided nation of 11 million people, he would be the first French-speaking political to take on the premiership in 32 years.

Sine last year's elections, the home to key international institutions the European Union and NATO has been run by a caretaker government headed by Yves Leterme.

Money markets and ratings agencies have issued warnings of financial tension, saying the failure to form a government could raise borrowing costs for a state already in debt to the tune of practically a full year's economic output.

© 2011 AFP

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