The waiting goes on for frustrated Belgians demanding the formation of a new government.
King Albert has given his chief mediator a further two weeks to try to break a political deadlock after elections held 249 days ago. Belgium is now being compared to Iraq, which last year took 289 days to swear in a government.
The challenge for the mediator is to bring together increasingly fractious rival French and Dutch-speaking parties.
The deadlock is over the country’s linguistic and economic divide. The foreign press is closely watching developments. Tony Connelly, a journalist with Ireland’s RTE state broadcaster, said: “It is embarrassing for a modern Western democratic country that it is now being compared to Iraq.”
Pascal Verdeau, a journalist at France 3 television, said: “I think Europeans should now put pressure on the Belgian government, because if this doesn’t work between the different communities in Belgium – which is after all a small European laboratory – how is it going to work elsewhere in Europe?”
Demonstrations are planned in Belgium on Thursday, calling for more efforts to resolve the impasse. On the internet, people can also join a virtual protest camp in front of the prime minister’s office.