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Europe

Belgian king refuses resignation of coalition power broker

Belgium's King Albert II has refused the resignation of politician charged with forming a new government. Socialist leader Elio Di Rupo has offered to step down, saying he could not reconcile deep political differences.

Belgian Socialist Party leader Elio di Rupo

Di Rupo accepted the request to continue his efforts

Belgium's French-speaking Socialist Party leader Elio di Rupo has been told he must press ahead with talks to form a new government, 10 weeks after parliamentary elections failed to produce a clear winner.

Di Rupo visited the palace of monarch King Albert II on Sunday to offer his resignation after failing to build a working coalition government. The pair were in discussion for three hours, a palace statement said.

"The king refused and asked him [Di Rupo] to pursue his mission," the statement read, and Di Rupo had "accepted" the task.

The Grande Place in Brussels

Part of the dispute is over funding to Brussels

A marathon 10 hours of crisis talks broke up without a deal earlier on Sunday, with Di Rupo telling reporters there was no agreement between his party and two Flemish parties - the nationalist N-VA and the center-right Christian Democrats. Di Rupo added that the sides were "incompatible."

Linguistic and economic divide

Parliamentary elections in June led to the deadlock, with neither the parties from Dutch-speaking Flanders nor center-left parties from French-speaking Wallonia winning an outright majority.

Di Rupo has been tasked with balancing Flemish demands for more powers for Flanders and the concerns of French speakers, who worry that their less-prosperous region will lose out in any devolution process. Another major point of division between the two sides is over government finances for the officially-bilingual capital of Brussels.

The failure to establish a government is widely viewed as an embarrassment for Belgium, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU.

Author: Richard Connor (AP/Reuters/AFP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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