Belgian PM survives confidence vote
Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt had an 87 to 38
margin of victory, after making concessions to
members of his six-party coalition.
The vote was triggered when members of the Flemish environmentalist party, Agalev, voiced concerns over an arms deal with Nepal- which has been fighting a bloody conflict with Maoist geurillas for six years. It has led to the loss of over 4,000 lives, and over 2,800 in the last nine months alone (by the government and guerillas)- slightly more than those killed in the WTC attacks.
On monday, the health minister, and Agalev member, Magda Aelvoet, resigned because of the deal, saying the deal was "incompatible with her personal convictions." The deal also faces considerabl opposition from the Flemish community in general.
Belgian will still supply
5,500 automatic rifles
to Nepal, but the
weapons will not be
supply until after that
The government also
said it would review
the law on arms
"Obviously I am happy with the vote, which
was massive and unanimous from the ranks of
the (government) majority," said Mr
The contract agreed by the Belgians last week
was placed with Fabrique Nationale Hertsal,
which is based near Liege in Wallonia.
Wallonia being the southern, predominantly French, region of Belgium.
The new health minister, Jef Tavernier, also an Agalev member, had said he could only agree to the deal if Nepal were to grant certain humanitarian guarantees. It was recently discovered that Germany had refused the deal with Nepal over the same issue.
Belgian law forbids arms deals with nations involved in civil wars. Although many in the Flemish and activist communities throughout Belgium have stated that the deal is illegal due to the nature of the Nepalese conflict, the European Union appeared to pander to the arms dealers, saying that Nepal was a "democratic state fighting an illegal Maoist rebellion, not a country engaged in civil war."
This is certainly not a first with regard to Belgium and arms dealing, this article being only one other instance.