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Belgium turns to political statesman over crisis

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Belgium turns to political statesman over crisis


Belgium has turned to a veteran politician to broker a new government, after a scandal over the botched bail out of the Fortis bank forced the governing coalition to resign.

King Albert the Second has given former premier Wilfried Martens the task of resolving the crisis prompted by the country’s third political breakdown in a year. The 72-year-old has been asked to broker a new coalition and says he would like to reach a deal and put a new government in place as soon as possible. Finance Minister Didier Reynders is an outside choice for Prime Minister, while former Premier Jean- Luc Dehaine is the pollsters’ favourite. The crisis unfolded when the government of outgoing Prime Minister Yves Leterme was accused of trying to influence an appeals court during the state’s attempt to sell most of Fortis, once Belgium’s largest bank, to France’s BNP Paribas. The scandal led to the resignation of the country’s justice minister on Friday, followed by Leterme’s offer to have the government resign.

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