First council meeting disrupted in St.-Genesius-Rode

The new municipal councils met for a first time in their new composition last night. In many places new majorities and new mayors take over as a result of the outcome of last October's local elections.

In Antwerp the opposition is unhappy that Mayor Bart De Wever (Flemish nationalist) will also chair the council, while in Denderleeuw in East Flanders socialists and liberals are accusing nationalists and Christian democrats of ditching the ostracisation of the far right Vlaams Belang because their councillors supported a Vlaams Belang motion on when the council should meet next.

In Bruges one councillor made a mistake and voted for the wrong candidate for the social services' council. A candidate who belongs to the councillor's own party failed to get the job of deputy president as a result.

In Sint-Genesius-Rode, a Flemish municipality where Francophones enjoy special language rights, the radical Flemish 'language action committee' TAK disrupted proceedings. The organisation objects to Pierre Rolin, a Francophone who is being put forward as the new mayor.

When the meeting started a number of people in the hall stood up brandishing placards with slogans including 'Rode Flemish'. They also threw stink bombs.

TAK's Roel De Leener explained this is to make it clear that this appointment stinks: "It's the same case in Linkebeek, Kraainem and Wezembeek-Oppem. TAK claims that Pierre Rolin has been elected on an 'anti-Flemish ticket'.

It's now up to Flemish Interior Minister Geert Bourgeois (Flemish nationalist) to appoint the mayors who are being put forward in the six Flemish municipalities around Brussels where Francophones enjoy special rights. If he fails to act, the matter can be raised with the Council of State, Belgium's highest administrative court.