N-VA threatens to leave Belgian government

Charles Michel © Annika Haas (EU2017EE)
Charles Michel © Annika Haas (EU2017EE)

Belgium’s Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (N-VA) has threatened to withdraw support for the country’s coalition government if one of its MPs is forced to resign over a scandal.

The scandal erupted after claims that Theo Francken, the minister for asylum and migration, allowed three Sudanese officials to inspect the documents of 100 asylum seekers who were later repatriated to Sudan. Accusations have been made some of these people subsequently came to harm under the regime of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted in The Hague over allegations of crimes against humanity, and an investigation was launched into Francken’s conduct.

Francken is a member of the Flemish nationalist N-VA party, one of four coalition partners in the Belgian government. Now, the Guardian reports that the party’s leader, Bart De Wever, has warned that if Francken is forced out of the government following the inquiry, the N-VA will follow suit and withdraw support for prime minister Charles Michel’s government, which could lead to the coalition’s collapse.

Michel has made efforts to reassure the party that irrespective of the outcome of the investigation, Francken’s resignation will not be demanded. However, this stance has drawn criticism from others in the coalition, who have accused Michel of treating N-VA favourably compared to the other parties, and making allowances for Francken’s alleged misconduct.

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