Belgium's negotiator between the country's deadlocked parties has quit, calling the situation impossible. Belgium has been without a government for more than nine months.
Belgium's political mediator says the situation is hopeless
Prospects of resolving the long-standing political crisis in Belgium received another set-back Wednesday, when the mediator between the country's deadlocked political parties quit his post.
Johan Vande Lanotte gave his resignation to Belgium's King Albert II, the Belgian palace announced. He had tried to quit earlier this month, but the king persuaded him to continue his efforts.
Belgium has lacked a government since its last ruling coalition collapsed in April 2010. Vande Lanotte, a former Belgian socialist leader, headed the fifth effort to broker a deal between seven political parties since then.
"I have informed the king there was no possibility of breaking this impasse, and that there is no real prospect of progress," he said at a new conference.
Belgians are fed up with their politicians
The deadlock comes from a dispute that follows Belgium's regional and linguistic divisions. Dutch speakers in the prosperous north - about 60 percent of the country's population - have demanded greater autonomy for their region, especially in economic and social policy. French speakers in the south, meanwhile, are afraid of losing funding if the north breaks away.
Dutch-speaking nationalists did well in elections last June, winning the most votes of any party but not enough to take power. Since then, a caretaker government has run day to day affairs in Belgium.
The situation could start to have economic repercussions, despite the fact that Belgium has weathered Europe's financial crisis relatively well. Ratings agencies have warned they could downgrade Belgium's credit rating if it continues without a government.
Last week, more than 30,000 people marched in the capital city of Brussels to demand politicians form a government.
Wednesday marked the 227th day since Belgium's ruling coalition collapsed last April - the longest time a European country has ever gone without a government.
Author: Shant Shahrigian (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Nancy Isenson
The CEO of French multinational oil company Total has died in a plane accident on the tarmac at a Moscow airport. Christophe de Margerie was preparing to take off for Paris.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has postponed a visit to Serbia, amid political tensions between the two countries following violence at a football match. Nationalism on both sides is on the rise.
As one of his final acts in office, EU chief Jose Manuel Barroso has issued a stern finger wag to Britain and its anti-Europe politics. If the UK left the union, it would be a "historic mistake," the EU head warned.
Renowned fashion designer Oscar de la Renta has died at the age of 82. He helped define American style, dressing first ladies and Hollywood stars.