Belgian bid to form government collapses

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Broken Belgium's bid to form a government collapsed on Friday putting fractious Dutch- and French-speaking parts back on a collision course.

The figurehead for Belgium's Flemish separatists, Bart De Wever, said negotiations had broken down after francophone Socialist leader Elio Di Rupo quit seven-party talks to travel to see King Albert II.

Di Rupo threw in the towel after failing to land a breakthrough three months after elections gave proponents of a breakaway Flanders the upper hand, with one Greens negotiator cited by RTBF public television saying it was now "game over" for the openly gay would-be premier.

New Flemish Alliance (NVA) boss Bart De Wever said in a statement that his party "regrets that the respective positions of the Flemish and the francophones could not be brought closer," accusing Di Rupo of presiding over a "missed opportunity."

A victim of death-threats throughout a process which has echoed increasingly weighed-down efforts to form a stable government throughout federal Belgium since the summer of 2007, the bow-tied Di Rupo's entourage indicated only that he would host a media conference early evening.

In a clear echo of the difficulties which beset separate stints in charge for current caretaker premier and so-called 'serial quitter' Yves Leterme, Di Rupo had already offered to stand down from his royal mission on Sunday.

He warned on Monday that the country of 10 million people, the permanent home to the European Union and NATO, risked a descent into "political chaos" if a deal carving up monies and voting rights could not be agreed across linguistic divides.

Charles Picque, an official with the state government in Brussels region, one of three alongside wealthy Flanders and Wallonia, told AFP that he saw no chance of the king asking Di Rupo to try again.

"He will have to find another solution," Picque said. "He can put the ball back in the Dutch-speaking camp by naming someone else who might have a better chance of convincing the Flemish to compromise."

© 2010 AFP

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