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Leterme to return as Belgian prime minister

Leterme to return as Belgian prime minister
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Former Belgian prime minister Yves Leterme is to get another crack at running the country’s fragile coalition government.

The current prime minister, Herman Van Rompuy, will hand in his formal resignation to King Albert II later today before taking up his new role as the European Union’s first full-time president. Rompuy has given Leterme his full backing. He said: “Now he has a second chance, he has all the qualities to prove he is a good prime minister. I hope he does, for him and for Belgium.” Tension between the main Dutch and French speaking communities have made Belgium difficult to govern but another former prime minister believes the political scene is more settled now. Wilfried Martens said: “It was a horrible year financially and economically. The conscience for urgent matters, vital and fundamental, has ripened. Therefore you need a political agreement, a reasonable compromise and so minds have evolved.” The cabinet will remain largely unchanged and Leterme is expected to make an official declaration in parliament this evening. Leterme stepped down as premier last December during the Fortis banking scandal and was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing. He was rehabilitated politically by Rompuy and appointed foreign minister in July.