Belgium king rejects PM's resignation

Belgian King Albert refused to accept Prime Minister Yves Leterme's resignation following his failure to broker a deal between French and Dutch speakers. Three senior politicians have been designated to find a solution to the crisis.


Read Armen Georgian's commentary: "Belgian King gives tired government a breathing space" 



Belgium's King Albert II on Thursday refused to accept Prime Minister Yves Leterme's resignation after consulting ministers on the best way to end the political crisis, a palace spokesman said.

Flemish Christian Democrat Leterme resigned late Monday after four months in office, unable to resolve a dispute between Belgium's Dutch-speaking Flemish majority and its French-speaking minority.

He will now keep his job and must oversee the implementation of social reforms only recently agreed by the coalition government formed in March.

The king designated Francophone ministers Francois-Xavier de Donnea and Raymond Langendries as well as Karl-Heinz Lambertz, head of Belgium's small German-speaking community, to kickstart an "institutional dialogue," a palace statement said.

The three have been asked "to examine in what way guarantees can be offered in order to begin in a credible way an institutional dialogue". They will have to report to the king at the end of this month.

Leterme has thus far been unable to reconcile the demands of parties from Flanders -- home to 60 percent of Belgium's 10.5 million people -- over radical reforms to the federal state.

Flanders, Belgium's Dutch-speaking northern half, is seeking more regional powers to reflect its prosperity. It also resents subsidising the less affluent, French-speaking Wallonia region to its south.


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