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Belgium's Van Rompuy named PM after coalition deal

 New Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy, left, is sworn in by Belgium's King Albert II, not shown, at the Royal Palace in Laeken, Belgium, Tuesd...

Belgium New Government

New Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy, left, is sworn in by Belgium's King Albert II, not shown, at the Royal Palace in Laeken, Belgium, Tuesd...

King Albert named Flemish Christian Democrat Herman Van Rompuy as Belgian prime minister on Tuesday to head a revived five-party coalition in a country facing recession and a bank crisis.

Van Rompuy replaces his party colleague Yves Leterme, who resigned on December 19 over allegations of political meddling in the bailout of stricken bank Fortis.

Van Rompuy, 61, is to make a speech to parliament on Wednesday, and a vote of confidence is to take place on Friday.

The press agency Belga said the only changes Van Rompuy planned to make in the government were justice minister, interior minister and minister for public service and government-owned companies.

He is expected to take over his predecessor's plan to battle a looming recession caused by the global financial crisis.

Van Rompuy will be the third prime minister since general elections in June 2007. His country is host to the main European Union institutions and to NATO.

Belgium is expected to have slipped into recession in the fourth quarter, major banks have received bail-outs, and fighting the economic downturn will be Van Rompuy’s main challenge.

Van Rompuy was budget minister from 1993 to 1999 and sharply reduced public debt in his first year in office.

His other task will be to sort out the Fortis debacle. The bank's shareholders won an appeal court ruling this month, freezing the group's break-up by the Dutch, Luxembourg and Belgian governments and the latter's sale of Fortis assets to BNP Paribas.

Leterme's government had planned a 2 billion euro ($2.87 billion) package of measures to boost growth, including tax cuts, lower energy costs and infrastructure projects.

That government collapsed after the Supreme Court said there were clear indications of political meddling in a court ruling on the bailout of Fortis.

Belgium's coalition comprises the Flemish Christian Democrat Party, Flemish Liberal Party, Francophone Liberal Party, Francophone Christian Democrats and Francophone Socialist Party.