Belgium’s PM Charles Michel submits resignation amid migration row


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Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel has offered his resignation just days after one of his main coalition partners quit in a row over migration.

Mr Michel lost the backing of the nationalist New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) over his support for a UN migration deal signed in Marrakech last week.

His move follows angry demonstrations in Brussels against the UN pact.

Mr Michel has told King Philippe of his decision. The king has yet to announce whether he will accept the resignation.

Mr Michel, 42, took office in October 2014 after forming a right-wing coalition, becoming at 38 the country’s youngest prime minister since 1841.

He announced his intention to resign on Tuesday following a debate in parliament in which opposition parties refused calls to support his minority government.

While Belgium was due to go to the polls next May, his decision now raises the possibility of early elections.

Mr Michel had previously defended the Marrakech migration pact, saying it presented an “opportunity for better European and international co-operation”.

The deal, which is not legally binding, seeks an international approach to migration that “reaffirms the sovereign rights of states to determine their national migration policy” and asserts the “fundamental” importance of legal migration.

But critics in Europe believe it will lead to increased immigration to the continent.

In July, 196 UN members agreed the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

It was signed by 164 countries, with the US and a number of European states – including Austria, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Slovakia – refusing to formally adopt the agreement.

Over the weekend, thousands of demonstrators marched in Brussels against the pact. Police deployed tear gas and water cannon as clashes broke out.

A counter-protest organised by left-wing groups and charities in the city centre drew about 1,000 people.

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