Belgian King Philippe appoints first woman prime minister

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Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes poses for the photographer during the passing of the power to the new Prime Minister, in Brussels, on Oct 27, 2019. [Photo/IC]

King Philippe of Belgium has appointed the Budget and Public Services Minister Sophie Wilmes as new caretaker prime minister to replace Charles Michel, who becomes President of the European Council in December.

Wilmes, 44, was chosen on Saturday as the new caretaker prime minister, and met with the King on Sunday.

"Sophie Wilmes has been received by the King in a private audience at the Royal palace in Brussels. She has been named as prime minister," the Belgian Royal Palace said in a tweet on Sunday.

Her appointment is unprecedented for Belgium as Sophie Wilmes becomes the country's first woman prime minister.

"I measure the responsibility that this represents. I thank my colleagues for their confidence. I will make every effort to ensure the stability and continuity of current affairs," she said on Twitter.

Belgium has not had a full-fledged government since December 2018, and negotiations to form a new coalition have stalled since the May 26 legislative elections. So far, all regional governments (in Wallonia, Flanders and Brussels) have been formed, but negotiations for a federal government seem far from over.

Due to the varied economic, social and administrative aspects of the three regions of Belgium, the formation of a federal government is generally a long process. Between 2010 and 2011, Belgium broke a record of 541 days without a government.

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