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Last Updated: Friday, 21 December 2007, 10:36 GMT
Belgian interim cabinet sworn in
Belgian interim Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt. File photo
Mr Verhofstadt's cabinet will remain in office until March
Belgium's emergency government has been sworn in, ending six months of political paralysis.

The five-party cabinet of caretaker Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt will stay in office for three months.

It will then hand power to the Christian Democrats - the winners of elections on 10 June.

Belgium had been without a full cabinet since the polls, but rival parties from the Dutch- and French-speaking regions finally struck a deal early this week.

The main political dispute is over greater regional autonomy - a move broadly favoured by the Dutch-speaking Flanders region but opposed by the French-speaking south.

Protests

Mr Verhofstadt, a Dutch-speaking Liberal, was sworn in at a ceremony in Brussels.

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His government will stay in office until March to tackle urgent economic issues neglected during the political crisis.

Mr Verhofstadt, who was already prime minister of the outgoing cabinet, is due to outline main priorities for his caretaker government later on Friday.

Belgium's King Albert II on Thursday asked Mr Verhofstadt to lead the country after five parties had agreed to participate in the new cabinet.

The government now faces a parliamentary vote of confidence on Sunday.

Last week, thousands of trade unionists took to the streets in Brussels, complaining about the political stalemate and rising food and fuel prices.

The European Commission has warned that the political paralysis was beginning to affect Belgium's economy.

SEE ALSO
Nation or state?
07 Dec 07 |  Magazine
Country profile: Belgium
18 Sep 07 |  Country profiles
Viewpoints: Belgian crisis
17 Sep 07 |  Europe

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