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Belgium's chief government negotiator asks to quit

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Belgium's chief government negotiator asks to quit

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Elio Di Rupo has walked away from the job of ending Belgium’s political crisis – dealing a blow to the country’s marathon efforts to form a government.

The chief negotiator, who leads the French-speaking Socialists, handed in his resignation to King Albert II who has yet to decide whether to accept.

Di Rupo threw in the towel after parties failed to agree on next year’s budget.

“If there is a disagreement today, we are actually playing with fire and plunging the people of our country into big trouble,” said Socialist Laurette Onkelinx.

Socialists and Christian Democrats are blaming the liberals in a row over how budget cuts should be made amid the eurozone debt crisis.

“The cost will be enormous for all citizens, including those they claim to protect,” said Benoit Lutgen, leader of the French-speaking Christian Democrats. “This is political irresponsibility.”

The budget battle is the latest challenge for the linguistically-divided country, now on its 527th day without a government.