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Belgium's King Accepts Government Resignation


Belgium's King Albert has accepted the government's resignation, which has plunged the country into a new political crisis - a little more than year after the last government collapsed.

According to reports, Belgian elections may be called in early June to replace the outgoing government of Prime Minister Yves Leterme. Last-ditch negotiations to keep Leterme's coalition government together collapsed late Monday and Belgium's King Albert accepted the prime minister's resignation.

Mr. Leterme's government lasted only five months before falling victim to long-standing differences between the country's French-speaking Walloons and wealthier, Dutch-speaking Flemmings. On Thursday, a key party withdrew from the governing coalition due to the failure to resolve a spat over special rights for Walloons living outside Brussels.

In the Belgian capital, Walloon book collector Jean-Pierre Eloy reacted with disgust at the political paralysis

Eloy says he knows nothing about politics, but he finds the behavior of Belgian politicians deplorable. He thinks there are many more important things to deal with than old linguistic spats, notably getting Belgium out of financial crisis.

The same reaction was expressed by shop owner Anne Lornoy, a Flemming married to a Walloon.

Lornoy says Belgians generally get along. She says it is the politicians who quarrel.

In a statement, the royal palace said King Albert had asked the outgoing government to manage "outstanding affairs." Belgium takes over the rotating European Union presidency in July and observers believe some political solution, even a short-term one, will be found before then.

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