Return to top office likely for Dehaene

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The Independent Online

The Former Belgian prime minister Jean-Luc Dehaene has emerged as the most likely candidate to take over as the country's leader after the collapse of Yves Leterme's government.

King Albert yesterday accepted Mr Leterme's resignation, which was offered on Friday after a Supreme Court handed down a report on political meddling in a case over the rescue of Fortis bank. The five coalition parties are scrambling to find Mr Leterme's successor.

Mr Dehaene is in the running to head an interim government until June 2009, when parliamentary elections could be held. Mr Dehaene was prime minister from 1992 to 1997. Carl Devos, a political scientist at Ghent University, said Mr Dehaene had the experience to lead Belgium out of the credit crisis.

The country is expected to slide into recession this quarter and needs to enact a €2bn (£1.88bn) recovery package and a deal on wages, as well as fix the Fortis debacle. Shareholders have sucessfully challenged the state-led break-up of the bank and argue that it should now be renegotiated. Reuters