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Coronavirus: Belgium's caretaker government remains in place, with extra powers
Belgium's caretaker federal government, led by prime minister Sophie Wilmès, has been granted special powers for six months to steer the country through the coronavirus crisis.
Wilmès' government will be able to unilaterally pass legislation, by royal decree, without full scrutiny by the Belgian federal parliament. The emergency powers are exclusively reserved for the fight against coronavirus.
The move, announced on Sunday night, has the backing of 10 political parties and will be put to a vote of confidence in parliament next week.
Belgium has been without a fully functioning federal government since December 2018. Elections were held last May and negotiations have been ongoing ever since to find a compromise between parties.
"The emergency today is to fight the coronavirus," said Sabine Laruelle, one of the senior politicians tasked with leading the coalition negotiations. "We must ensure that everyone in our country affected by this virus can be cared for properly."
She added: "The parties are committed to granting special powers to this government. But the parties are not handing this government a blank cheque - they want to be consulted."
Photo: Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga