Belgian king appoints caretaker gov't until May elections

Published 21.12.2018 21:55
Updated 22.12.2018 08:00

Belgian King Philippe on Friday appointed a caretaker government to oversee the country until the elections scheduled for May 2019, after a dispute about migration split the center-right coalition apart.

Prime Minister Charles Michel tendered his government's resignation on Tuesday after the departure of the Flemish nationalist N-VA party, in protest at Michel's migration policies, which left his coalition teetering on the brink.

In weighing up his response, Philippe held a series of consultations with the country's political leaders. "The king has accepted the resignation of the government and has put it in charge of managing current affairs," the royal palace said in a statement issued Friday. "He notes a political will to guarantee the good management of the country until the next elections," the statement added, calling on political leaders to address Belgium's "economic, budgetary and international" challenges as well as social and environmental concerns.

The government crisis was triggered by Michel's decision to endorse the U.N. global migration compact in Marrakech earlier this month, despite the last-minute opposition of the N-VA. Several countries, including the United States, have backed out of the non-binding accord, which seeks to better manage migration.

The departure of the N-VA from the government left the remaining coalition parties – the Christian democratic CD&V, the center-liberal Open Vld and Michel's francophone MR party – with just 52 of the 150 seats in parliament.

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