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New Belgian government inaugurated
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A new Belgian government was sworn in on Tuesday with Flemish Christian Democrat Herman van Rompuy as the prime minister.

Members of the new government, including 14 ministers and seven state secretaries, took their oath before Belgium's King Albert IIon Tuesday afternoon, Belgian media reported.

The Belgian parliament is scheduled to hold a vote of confidence on the new government on Friday.

The new government comprises the same five parties of the outgoing government, namely the Flemish Christian Democrats, the Flemish Liberals, the Francophone Christian Democrats, the Francophone Liberals, and the Francophone Socialists.

Van Rompuy, 61, was the speaker of the lower house of parliament before taking up the new job. He succeeded fellow Flemish Christian Democrat Yves Leterme, who submitted his government's resignation on Dec. 19 over allegations of political interference in judicial affairs.

Van Rompuy said on Monday that his government will continue the main policies of the previous government, including the plans to revive the economy which was hard hit by the financial crisis and has been forecast to slide into recession in the fourth quarter.

Van Rompuy served as Belgium's budget minister from 1993 to 1999 and is generally regarded as a budgetary hardliner.

The cabinet composition remains largely the same as the previous one with a few exceptions. Patrick Dewael left the post of home affairs minister to replace van Rompuy as speaker of the lower house of parliament. The void is filled in by Dewael's fellow Flemish Liberal Guido de Padt, who is a member of the lower house of parliament.

Flemish Christian Democrat Stephan de Clerck succeeds fellow party member Jo Vandeurzen as justice minister. De Clerck served as justice minister between 1995 and 1998.

Meanwhile, Flemish Christian Democrat Steven Vanackere replaces fellow party member Inge Vervotte as minister for civil service and public enterprise.

The previous government was inaugurated in March after nine months of difficult negotiations to form a coalition. The new government is expected to stay until the next general election in 2011.

(Xinhua News Agency December 31, 2008)

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