Former Belgian PM to broker new goverment

Outgoing PM Guy Verhofstadt said Monday he will seek to end the deadlock in government negotiations between the country's Dutch-speaking and Francophone parties, six months after suffering electoral defeat.

Former Belgian PM to broker new goverment
King Albert asked the Dutch-speaking Liberal to end the record-length stalemate in coalition talks because parties on both sides of the nation's linguistic frontier have refused to yield to the long-held Belgian principle of consensus politics.

"Our nation is going through one of the most serious political crises of the past decades," Verhofstadt told reporters. "Our country's image suffers and our political and common problems are not dealt with."

The return of Verhofstadt was a stunning political reversal after Yves Leterme, the would-be Christian Democrat premier, had sought in vain to broker a coalition between the two sides.

But negotiations to form a government collapsed last weekend over demands for more autonomy from northern Dutch-speaking Flanders while Francophone Wallonia seeks continued centralized leadership.

Leterme returned his mandate to broker a government to the king Saturday.

After eight years in charge of Belgium, Verhofstadt's loss was generally seen as the end of his national political career.

"At my insistence, it will be very short and limited in scope," he said of his task. He will now contact political leaders to bring them back to the table.

The coalition talks between Christian Democrats and Liberals — each split into Dutch- and French-speaking camps — ran aground because prosperous Flanders demanded more autonomy to run its affairs independently from poorer Wallonia, which insists on a strong Belgian link to assure financial solidarity.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Aralık 2007, 15:35
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