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Search continues for a new PM after Leterme resignation

Latest update : 2008-12-27

Belgium's ex-premier Wilfried Martens (pictured), nominated by King Albert II to resolve the political turmoil following the resignation of Prime Minister Yves Leterme, says the search is still on for a prime minister who "inspires confidence."

AFP - Belgium's ex-premier Wilfried Martens, tasked with resolving the country's political crisis, said Friday he is still looking for a new prime minister after Yves Leterme's government collapsed.
"It is an enormous task. To achieve a stable government we need a personality who inspires confidence," he said, dashing earlier suggestions that a new prime minister could be named Friday.
Martens was nominated by King Albert II to end a deadlock in talks on restoring Belgium's political order after Leterme's government collapsed under accusations of seeking to influence a court ruling linked to the break-up of banking giant Fortis.
Earlier Friday Marc Paredis, a spokesman for Martens, told AFP that "informal telephone consultations were on" to replace Leterme, whose resignation was accepted by the monarch on Monday.
Martens added that he remained optimistic in his task, saying he held a "very constructive" meeting with the leaders of the current coalition.
"I must continue my search. I hope to reach a conclusion very quickly," he said.
The collapse of Leterme's government has deepened a crisis that has dragged since the June 2007 elections.
Leterme struggled for months after the poll to put a government together as Belgium's Dutch and French speaking parties feuded over whether to devolve more power to regional authorities.
Although he eventually succeeded after months of on-again-off-again negotiations, the issue of power sharing continued to dog his government, forcing him to resign in July. But Albert II refused to accept it.
With Leterme's government remaining in place until another cabinet can be formed, former prime minister Jean-Luc Dehaene has emerged as a favourite for premier.
Dehaene, 68, who twice served as premier, has developed a reputation as a political "minesweeper," having chaperoned feuding French- and Dutch-speaking communities through power-sharing disputes in the past.


Date created : 2008-12-27