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King asks Leterme to form government

Published on 16/07/2007

16 July 2007

BRUSSELS (AP) – King Albert II has asked Flemish Christian Democrat leader Yves Leterme to form a government in an effort to end five weeks of political stalemate since national elections that gave his centre-right party the most seats in parliament.

The monarch called Leterme to the palace late Sunday and invited him to build a new ruling coalition.

However, efforts to forge a deal between the Christian Democratic and Liberal parties remain deadlocked over deep divisions between French- and Dutch-speaking politicians over how to share out powers between Belgium’s linguistic regions and the federal authorities.

Leterme’s party ran in the election in an alliance with a small nationalist party that seeks more autonomy for the Dutch-speaking Flanders region. But he needs the support of French-speaking parties who oppose handing power to Flanders.

The outgoing coalition of Liberals and Socialists led by Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has continued in office while efforts to form a new government drag on.

[Copyright AP 2007]

Subject: Belgian news