Belgium Breaks Impasse, Forms New Govt.

Deal reached after 9-month crisis that almost split the nation
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2008 11:20 AM CDT
Yves Leterme, center, celebrates his election victory in Brussels, Sunday, June 10, 2007. Leterme will finally become prime minister of Belgium this week.   (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
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(Newser) – It took 9 months of negotiations and threatened to break the country in two, but Belgium's fractious Dutch- and French-speaking political parties struck a deal today to form a new coalition government and work toward shared priorities. Yves Leterme, the leader of the Flemish center-right party that won the June 2007 elections, will finally become prime minister later this week, Bloomberg reports.

Leterme is scheduled to meet the king on Thursday to present his new government, composed of socialists, liberals, and Christian Democrats from both sides of the language divide. He will then take over from Guy Verhofstadt, whom he defeated in June but who has remained the country's "outgoing" prime minister for almost a year. The deadlock had stoked fears last year that the binational kingdom could split into two mini-states.