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Belgian prime minister offers to quit

Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme
Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme
  • Political crisis throws Thursday's vote on Muslim face veil vote into doubt
  • Belgian king hasn't yet accepted Yves Leterme's resignation
  • Prime minister acted after Flemish liberal party withdrew from coalition
  • Belgium

(CNN) -- Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme has offered to resign amid a political dispute, the press office of the Belgian parliament said Thursday.

The Belgian king has not yet accepted the prime minister's offer, the Royal Palace press office said. King Albert II and Leterme were meeting on Thursday afternoon, the office said.

The prime minister acted after a Flemish liberal party withdrew from a coalition government, according to news reports.

The crisis made it impossible to say whether the legislators in Belgium will vote as planned Thursday on whether to ban face coverings worn by observant Muslim women.

Belgian legislators are considering a ban in all public places on niqabs -- veils that cover the face -- as well as burqas, which cover the face and everything else from head to toe.

They were scheduled to vote on the ban Thursday afternoon, but the crisis has called the timing of that vote into question.

A statement from the Royal Palace said the king and the prime minister believe "a political crisis would be inopportune and would pose a grave prejudice to the economic and social well-being of the citizens and, on the other hand, the role of Belgium within Europe."