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Belgian transport minister Jacqueline Galant has stepped down over accusations she ignored lapses in security at Brussels airport before the attacks of March 22.

A confidential document shows security lapses at Belgium’s airports were identified by EU inspectors in 2015.

Jacqueline Galant had denied having seen the report, which was leaked by opposition parties.

ISIS attacks on Zaventem airport and a Brussels metro station left 32 people dead.Jacqueline Galant resignation

Belgian PM Charles Michel had previously defended Jacqueline Galant, and he had told parliament that her office had not seen the critical EU report.

However, on April 15, following the publication of further documents on April 14, Charles Michel said that “contrary to what was communicated to me” the report had been discussed, according to public broadcaster RTBF.

Charles Michel said he had met Jacqueline Galant on April 15 and following the meeting the minister submitted her resignation to the king.

Jacqueline Galant wrote in her resignation letter that “the orchestrated and theatrical confusion of the last 48 hours prevents me from continuing in the performance of my duties”.

The minister’s resignation followed that of Belgian federal transport agency chief Laurent Ledoux on April 14.

Laurent Ledoux had complained of a lack of funding from Jacqueline Galant and said that the minister herself should “take responsibility and step aside”.

Jacqueline Galant said on April 15 that she was shocked by the way Laurent Ledoux had resigned, and said he was carrying out a “media crusade”.

The 2015 European Commission report, published by public broadcaster RTBF, cited “serious deficiencies” and said airport security programs, air carriers and suppliers were “not adequately monitored”.

The two suicide bombers who attacked Brussels airport blew themselves up in the departures area and would not normally have faced any security checks.

The bomb attacks on the airport and Maelbeek metro station occurred just four days after Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam was caught near his home in Molenbeek. He had been on the run for four months.

Belgium’s parliament is to hold an inquiry into how the attacks were handled.

The interior and justice ministers both offered to resign in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, following revelations that Turkey had warned Belgian authorities about one of the attackers when it deported him back to Belgium, but the prime minister asked them to stay on.


Brussels is extending the highest level of terror alert because of the “serious and imminent” threat of Paris-style attacks, Belgium’s PM Charles Michel has announced.

The prime minister added that universities, schools and the metro would stay shut.

Belgium’s capital has been on lockdown all weekend, amid a manhunt for suspected Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam.

ISIS militants, some of them from Brussels, killed 130 people in Paris on November 13.

Security forces completed several operations in Brussels on Sunday night, the AFP news agency reports. The police had urged the public not to report its movements on social media.

On November 22, PM Charles Michel told reporters in Brussels that the authorities fear “an attack similar to the one in Paris, with several individuals who could also possibly launch several attacks at the same time in multiple locations”.

Photo EPA

Photo EPA

Earlier, Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon said the danger to Belgium was not tied to Salah Abdeslam alone.

“The threat is broader than the one suspected terrorist,” he told Flemish broadcaster VRT.

It was not clear if Jan Jambon was referring to those involved in the Paris attacks, or others who might be planning attacks in Belgium.

Soldiers joined police officers on patrols in Brussels over the weekend. Many public spaces in the usually bustling capital were deserted, as people heeded official warnings to avoid crowds.

The Belgian authorities have so far charged three people with involvement in the Paris attacks, claimed by ISIS.

French media have reported that nine militants carried out the attacks, and seven died on the same night.

One of the men who drove Salah Abdeslam to Belgium told his lawyer that he was dressed in a “big jacket” and may have had a suicide belt.

The lawyer, Carine Couquelet, told French TV this raised questions, including the possibility that Salah Abdeslam may have been supposed to blow himself up in Paris but had had second thoughts.

Friends of Salah Abdeslam told ABC News they had spoken to him on Skype and said he was hiding in Brussels and desperately trying to get to Syria.

They said Salah Abdeslam was caught between European authorities hunting him and ISIS members who were “watching him” and were unhappy that he had not detonated his suicide belt.


Belgian PM Charles Michel has been attacked with french fries and squirted with mayonnaise by anti-austerity activists.

Michel out, austerity out,” cried the four activists as the 38-year-old was beginning a speech on December 22 in the southern city of Namur, according to several reporters.

French fries with mayonnaise are a Belgian specialty.

The protesters were swiftly tackled by security guards as Charles Michel looked on, smiling in a mayonnaise-stained suit.Blegium PM Charles Michel mayo attack

After the incident, the prime minister restarted his speech apologizing for smelling of mayonnaise.

Charles Michel, 39, who took office in October, leads a coalition that intends to raise the retirement age in Belgium to 67, scrap plans for a usually automatic cost-of-living raise next year and cut public-sector spending.

The plans sparked several rounds of strikes and demonstrations in the past weeks, including a march of more than 100,000 people in Brussels, which ended in violent protests that left dozens of police officers injured.

Food-related protests are a Belgian specialty.

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King Philippe of Belgium has sworn in a new centre-right government, more than four months after the general election.

The new cabinet is led by French-speaking liberal Charles Michel, 38, who will be Belgium’s youngest prime minister since 1841.

The government is the first to include ministers from the separatist New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) party. It has vowed to cut government spending and balance the national budget.

Belgium is notorious for long political deadlocks following elections.

It took 541 days to form the country’s previous, Socialist-led government.

Charles Michel has become Belgium's youngest prime minister since 1841

Charles Michel has become Belgium’s youngest prime minister since 1841

Belgium is also deeply divided linguistically. Dutch-speaking parties performed well in the elections, but they chose to form a four-party coalition and appoint a French-speaking prime minister.

The N-VA, which campaigns for more autonomy for northern, Dutch-speaking Belgium, came first in the May elections.

Its leader, Bart De Wever, will remain mayor of Antwerp and did not join the government.

As well as a commitment to lower taxes, the new government plans to raise the pension age from 65 to 66 in 2025 and to 67 in 2030.

Outgoing prime minister, French-speaking socialist Elio di Rupo, has vowed to lead the political opposition to the policies.

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