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Belgian king asks prime minister to stay on until May elections

Belgian king asks prime minister to stay on until May elections

The king of Belgium has accepted the resignation of Charles Michel as prime minister but asked him to stay on at the head of a caretaker government until elections are held in May.

Michel, a Francophone liberal, had led a four-party coalition government that fell earlier this month when the largest party, the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), quit over objections to a UN migration pact.

Subsequent efforts to relaunch as a minority administration failed and Michel submitted his resignation on Tuesday after losing a confidence vote.

The Belgian king, who plays an unusually active role for a constitutional monarch, accepted Michel’s resignation on Friday after meeting leaders from most of Belgium’s political parties at the palace in recent days.

A statement from the palace carried by state broadcaster RTBF said King Philippe had asked Michel to lead a government of “current affairs”, effectively a caretaker administration. The king said that following his meetings he saw “political will to guarantee the good management of the country until the next elections.

He also called on politicians to provide “an appropriate response to the economic, budgetary and international challenges” and meet the population’s expectations on “social and environmental levels”.

The statement appears to end speculation about snap elections in the new year. The “orange-blue” coalition, made up of Flemish Christian Democrats, Flemish liberals and Michel’s French-speaking liberal party, is expected to continue in office.