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Belgian new gov't sworn in

Interview

Nine months after the general elections, Belgium's new government was finally sworn-in Thursday.

Flemish Christian Democrat Yves Leterme was appointed as the country's new prime minister.King Albert II swore in the new administration in the royal palace in the afternoon. Leterme, whose party was the biggest winner in the polls in June, succeeded Guy Verhofstadt as prime minister.

Nine months after the general elections, Belgium's new government was finally sworn-in Thursday with Flemish Christian Democrat Yves Leterme appointed as the country's new prime minister.

The five coalition parties - two Flemish parties and three francophone parties - reached an agreement on the allocation of ministerial posts.

The new government consists of 15 ministers and seven deputy ministers, and there are few changes from the interim administration led by Verhofstadt, which has been in place since December, Belgian public broadcaster VRT reported.

Flemish Christian Democrats Jo Vandeurzen and Pieter De Crem stay on as justice minister and defense minister.

Flemish Liberals Karel De Gucht and Patrick Dewael remain foreign minister and interior minister respectively.

The leader of the francophone Christian Democrats, Joelle Milquet, is the new employment minister. Francophone Liberal Didier Reynders stays on as finance minister.

The francophone Socialists are represented in the cabinet by Laurette Onkelinx as social affairs minister and Paul Magnette as climate and energy minister.

The flemish Christian Democrats was the biggest winner in the elections in June last year, but Leterme failed twice to form a government because of the unbridgeable differences between Flemish and francophone parties over the devolution of powers to regions.

Parties from the more prosperous northern region of Flanders, where 60% of the country's population live, insisted on transfer of more powers from the federal to the regional government, while parties from French-speaking Wallonia vehemently opposed the idea.

In December, Verhofstadt was entrusted by King Albert II with the task of forming a new cabinet. An interim government, which involved the five major parties, was quickly set up, enabling the parties to continue their coalition talks while urgent national issues could be dealt with.

Verhofstadt, who had been head of government for the past nine years, had said he would step down in March whether a new government was ready or not.

On Tuesday, the five parties finally reached an agreement on a political program, ending the nine-month political stalemate which was unprecedented in Belgium's history. (Xinhua)

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