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Belgian Interim Government Approved by Parliament

The Belgian parliament has endorsed a new interim government formed at the request of King Albert to deal with urgent economic issues.

The (97-46) parliamentary vote (with one abstention) Sunday clears the way for former Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt to govern for another three months.

The Belgian government has been paralyzed since general elections in June. The Dutch-speaking Christian Democratic party won those polls, but has failed to strike a coalition deal with French-speaking parties in the southern region of Wallonia.

The interim government was formed last week to take urgent action against rising food and fuel prices. King Albert also asked Mr. Verhofstadt to identify and negotiate reforms aimed at easing tensions between the two linguistic groups.

Mr. Verhofstadt is scheduled to cede power to Flemish Christian Democratic leader Yves Leterme in late March, if a deal is first reached on balancing power between the two regions.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.