Saturday 25 November 2017

Belgians warned to prepare for country's split

Martin Banks in Brussels

A woman tipped as a future Belgian premier has told citizens to "get ready for the break-up" of the country, after talks to form a government failed.

Laurette Onkelinx, a Socialist MP, spoke after King Albert II appointed two new negotiators to form a government straddling Dutch and French-speaking factions.

Elio Di Rupo, the Socialist leader, gave up efforts to form a coalition with the biggest Flemish party, the independence-minded N-VA, seven weeks after a general election returned a hung parliament.

"Let's hope it doesn't come to that because if we split, it will be the weakest who will pay the heaviest price. On the other hand, we can no longer ignore that among a large part of the Flemish population, it's their wish," Miss Onkelinx told 'La Derniere Heure' newspaper.

"So yes, we have to get ready for the break-up of Belgium. "Loads of people think it's possible."

Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council and a former Belgian prime minister, said he believed there was a chance of a breakthrough.

"We have to stand up to our followers, on both sides, Flemings and francophones, and move forward," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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