Belgium government turmoil over Migrant Compact
Belgium Interior Minister Jan Jambon of the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) confirmed on Sunday (9/12/2018) that he, along with the party’s other ministers would resign over disagreement with Prime minister Charles Michel over signature of Global Comapact on migration in Marrakesh, Morocco, at UN-led conference scheduled for Monday, December 10.
“It’s clear,” he told to RTBF, following hours of uncertainty.
The decision means Charles Michel will lead a minority government for the five months before parliamentary elections scheduled for late May.
He will now have to appoint ministers to replace those held by the N-VA — which had been the largest of the coalition’s four parties — including the interior, finance, defence and migration portfolios.
In power for four years, the coalition has often been riven over the N-VA’s anti-migration positions.
Party leader Bart De Wever issued an ultimatum to Michel on Saturday night, suggesting the N-VA would leave the coalition if the Prime minister flew to a UN conference in Marrakesh on Sunday to endorse the pact.
Michel stood firm, saying he would represent Belgium in Marrakesh as the “head of state of a responsible coalition”.
A ‘last attempt’ cabinet meeting was held late Saturday, but failed to overcome the differences between the parties.
The non-binding UN accord, which would promote a common global approach to migrant flows, has become notorious for European anti-immigration parties.
It was initially supported by all four parties in Belgium‘s coalition, but the N-VA changed its position in late October.
The crisis had been going on for several weeks before bursting into the open when Prime minister Michel, a Liberal, turned to parliament after failing to unite his government behind the pact.
The N-VA and the far-right Vlaams Belang party voted against the accord.
The draft UN pact lays down 23 objectives, claiming to open up legal migration and better management of a global flow of 250 million people in need.
The United States refused the talks on the pact last year, joined by a number of European countries like Hungary, Austria, Poland, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Australia, and Croatia.