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Belgian crisis eases as deal sets up interim government

Belgian crisis eases as deal sets up interim government
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After six months of uncertainty, Belgium’s political crisis is over – at least temporarily. Caretaker Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has formed an interim coalition government which could be sworn in on Friday.

The Dutch-speaking Liberal leader has convinced the francophone Christian Democrats to join his temporary coalition. The five-party grouping will stay in power until at least March 23.

It should have been Yves Leterme’s role to form the government. The leader of the Dutch-speaking Christian Democrats won elections in June but has not been able to find a compromise with his French-speaking counterparts on the issue of institutional reform.

Devising a budget for 2008 and agreeing on the extent of regional autonomy are two of the key issues that must also be decided. Negotiations to form a permanent government under Leterme will now get underway within the next few weeks.