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Belgium Swears In New Government

The chief of Belgium's francophone Socialist Party (PS) Elio Di Rupo (L) poses with King Albert II (R) after being sworn in as Prime Minister at the Laeken Royal Palace in Brussels December 6, 2011.

Socialist Elio Di Rupo has taken the oath as Belgium's new prime minister, ending one-and-a-half years without a permanent government.

Di Rupo was sworn in Tuesday by Belgium's King Albert II during a ceremony at the royal palace in Brussels.

Members of Di Rupo's multi-party coalition government also took the oath.

On Monday, King Albert named Di Rupo the country's first French-speaking prime minister in nearly four decades.

Previously, Belgian negotiators had trouble settling political, cultural and economic differences between the country's Dutch speakers and French speakers. The two sides came together after pressure from the European Union and a credit-rating downgrade in the midst of a financial crisis.

Last week, Di Rupo said there is still much work to do and issues to settle. But he said the country's six political parties reached agreement on a 2012 budget, a major obstacle toward putting together a coalition government.

The European Union threatened to penalize Belgium unless it came up with a spending plan for next year. The Standard & Poor's agency downgraded Belgium's credit rating in part because the country did not have a government.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.