Van Rompuy named new prime minister

Christian Democrat Herman Van Rompuy was named new prime minister of Belgium by King Albert II after the former speaker of the lower house of parliament reached agreement on a new coalition government, according to media reports.


AFP - Flemish Christian Democrat Herman Van Rompuy reached agreement Tuesday on a new Belgian coalition government of five parties, opening the way for his nomination as prime minister by King Albert II, Belgian media said.

"The partners have reached agreeement on a government," the national Belga news agency reported.

A spokesman for Van Rompuy said he could not confirm the reports.

The move to form a government came 12 days after Prime Minister Yves Leterme stepped down in the so-called "Fortisgate" scandal, with his aides accused of trying to influence a court case linked to the break-up of the major bank Fortis.

According to Belga, the new government was to be officially presented to the Belgian monarch at 5:00 pm (1600 GMT), though the reports said the justice minister had yet to be agreed.

A source close to the palace confirmed that the presentation was "very probable".

Van Rompuy, until now speaker of the lower house of parliament, was given the job of forming a government by the king on Sunday.

A moderate Christian Democrat from Belgium's Dutch-speaking northern region of Flanders, he has long shied away from the job of premier.

Van Rompuy had held discussions with the five parties of the outgoing coalition: Flemish Christian Democrats and liberals and francophone Christian Democrats along with liberals and socialists from the southern Wallonia region.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning