The Belgian head of state King Albert II takes the salute as the country celebrates its national day. But its against a backdrop of political turmoil that the monarch is, once again, thrust into the limelight as a force for unity.
Last week the King rejected the resignation of Prime Minister Yves Leterme, submitted after less than four months in office, and appointed a group of wise men to bring about talks on power-sharing between the feuding politicians representing the different linguistic communities.
Leterme had failed to broker a deal between the the country’s Dutch and French speaking representatives plunging the country into a fresh political crisis and renewing talk of a potential split.
Cardinal Godfried Danneels delivered a message to the self same politicians at the centre of the row. “Pray that the Lord blesses our country, for peace to reign and a good understanding between the two communities and all citizens,” he said.
The Prime Minister Yves Leterme, leader of the Flemish Christian Democrats, is still in the job. “I am very honoured by king’s decision, still I think its very important that the institutional aspects of the government are respected that was not the case on July the 15th, so it must be respected,” he said.
The country now waits for the two senior French speaking politicians and the premier of Belgium’s small German speaking community to establish a programme of reform by the end of the month.