Agence Luvenburg Presse

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    Prime Minister Selene Clarke has ordered her Liberal Party to prepare for a leadership election that will see her replaced as its leader.

    There has been growing pressure for Clarke to step down as prime minister over a corruption scandal.

    She denies she accepted up to one million livres in illegal campaign donations. The party election is being seen as an attempt to stop her coalition partners from supporting calls for a snap election.

    The prime minister has not been charged over the bribery allegations, but has said she would resign if indicted - which would be expected to lead to early elections.

    Clarke admits accepting funds from businessman ?mile Hugo, before her campaign to become prime minister in 2007, but says they were legitimate campaign donations. March 27 has been set as a date for the Liberal Party leadership vote.

    The Liberals have just 155 MPs out of a total of 484 seats in the parliament and relies on the Green Party's 58 seats and the National Reform?s 43 seats as key allies in its governing coalition.

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    Opposition Conservatives leader Louis Picard has called for snap elections, after Prime Minister Selene Clarke announced she would stand down.

    Picard said the government had ?finished its mission? and was responsible for a ?string of failures.?

    Prime Minister Selene Clarke announced that she would not stand in a leadership race for her Liberal Party set in five days. She was under increasing pressure to quit over mounting corruption allegations, which she denies.

    Allies and opponents of Clarke alike have backed her decision to quit. She plans to remain as caretaker prime minister until a new government is formed.

    **'Correct decision' **
    Conservative Party leader Picard told ALP: ?This government has finished its mission, irrespective of who will head the Liberals.?

    ?Everyone in this government is responsible for a string of failures. We must let the people decide through new elections.?

    Clarke?s main coalition partner, the Green Party leader and Health Minister Henri d?Aguesseaue, said he believed the Liberals could form a new government without a new general election. The Greens received four cabinet posts in the outgoing government and control 58 seats out of 484 in Parliament.

    A recently released opinion poll suggested Luvenburgish voters thought Opposition leader Louis Picard would make the best premier, ahead of Foreign Minister Alexandre Vallier.

    Deputy Liberal leader and Foreign Minister Alexandre Vallier, a favourite to replace Clarke as head of the Liberal Party, said the prime minister's decision had been hard but correct.

    Defense Minister Jacques Duplessis, another main contender to replace Clarke, has said that if he wins the party contest, he is confident of winning enough support to form a workable coalition government. Duplessis is widely considered as more hawkish on foreign policy could prove more appealing to the center-right National Reform. The National Reform Party is the governing coalition?s smallest partner with three cabinet positions and 43 seats in Parliament.

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    **Luvenburgish Foreign Minister Alexandre Vallier has won the leadership of the governing Liberal Party, putting him on track to succeed Selene Clarke as prime minister. **

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    Vallier beat Defense Minister Jacques Duplessis by just 1746 votes, or 4.1%, party officials said.

    In a victory speech, Vallier announced that he wanted to form a new cabinet ?as quickly as possible? and called for party unity. After King ?douard III invites him to form the government, Vallier will have 15 days to do assemble a coalition government, during which time Selene Clarke will remain prime minister.

    Clarke phoned her foreign minister to congratulate him and promise her full co-operation after he appeared on track to win the vote.

    **'Great reverence' **

    According to the final results released by the Liberal Party, Vallier won the election with 41.2%, or 17,548 votes. Defense Minister Jacques Duplessis came in a second with 37.1%, or 15,802 votes. The other candidate, Finance Minister ?lisabeth L?vesque lagged far behind with 21.7%.

    Duplessis telephoned Vallier to formally admit defeat and congratulate him.

    If he can form a fresh governing coalition within the next four weeks, Vallier will become the 40th prime minister of Luvenburg. Analysts say that will be no easy task, and if it were to end in failure, general elections will follow.

    The leader of a key coalition partner, the National Reform Party, quickly laid out its conditions for taking part in a new government, including laying a timetable for withdrawal from Neo-Venetia.

    ?If Vallier wants a government, he needs to comply with our demands,? Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Marie LaPorte said.

    Mr Clean

    Vallier is seen as less hawkish than Duplessis when it comes to foreign policy and the Neo-Venetian conflict. He also favors greater European integration.

    His supporters say he represents a break with the past. Vallier is untainted by the kind of allegations of corruption and bribery that led to Prime Minister Clarke?s resignation and have damaged the reputation of Luvenburgish politics.

    ?He is a good choice as far as Luvenburg?s foreign relations are concerned, but there is still the tension with Angelter. His experience as industry and commerce minister under Prime Minister Anne de Brantis will benefit Luvenburg?s trade relations across Europe,? said Charles LeBlanc, professor at the Universit? de Braitus.

    ?Vallier looks like ?Mr Clean.? But he still has to form a coalition government,? LeBlanc told ALP ?It is very difficult to predict whether he will be a strong prime minister.?

    Polls now suggest the Conservative Party could win a potential general election, which would take place if a coalition government cannot be formed in the wake of the Liberal leadership vote.

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    **Alexandre Vallier, new leader of Luvenburg?s ruling Liberal Party, is working to restore party unity after his victory in a leadership election which opened wide rifts. **

    Vallier held a meeting of top party members, which correspondents say he needed to use to close ranks while he tries to form a new government.

    Election runner-up Jacques Duplessis - loser by just 4.1% - announced after the poll he was quitting politics for a time.

    The poll was caused by the resignation of scandal-hit Prime Minister Selene Clarke.

    Media reports say the chances for Vallier's success in forming a new coalition look far from certain after the Liberals? smallest coalition partner, the center-right National Reform Party, was reported to be seeking a snap general election.

    **Vital question **

    Vallier was quoted saying at the party meeting that he would try to forge a coalition, but ?if I don't succeed, I will go to general elections and win.?

    "I was sorry to hear of Duplessis' decision and of the fact that he isn't here today," he added.

    Conservative party officials have already called for early elections, which polls forecast would make theirs the largest party in the Chamber of Deputies.

    ?We should allow the millions of Luvenburgish citizens to choose who will lead them and not leave such a vital question in the hands of a few hundred Liberal supporters,? Conservatives leader Louis Picards after Friday's vote.

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    **Luvenburgish Prime Minister Selene Clarke has submitted her resignation letter to King ?douard III. **

    The king asked Clarke to remain on as caretaker prime minister while her successor as leader of the Liberal Party tries to form a new government.

    She is to be replaced by Luvenburg?s Foreign Minister Alexandre Vallier, who has 15 days to assemble a fresh coalition.

    Clarke announced she would step down after facing growing pressure over a corruption and campaign financing inquiry.

    Forming a coalition will not be an easy task as the Liberals do not have a majority in the lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies.

    The same parties, particularly the center-right National Reform Party, who joined the Clarke government, will not necessarily support Vallier.

    It is a complicated process that may end in general elections, until when Selene Clarke may remain as prime minister.

    **Corruption investigations **

    Vallier, who is regarded as a centrist, won the leadership of the governing Liberal Party on Friday, beating Defense Minister Transport Minister Jacques Duplessis by just 4.1% of the vote.

    According to Luvenburgish law, Vallier will have up to 15 days to attempt to form a coalition representing at least 243 of the Chamber of Deputies? 484 seats from Luvenburg?s mosaic of political parties.

    If he fails, King ?douard III may give another member of the Chamber of Deputies up to 15 days to try to form a government. If still no government is formed, the king may mandate yet another member to try, or call elections, which must then take place within 35 days.

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    Luvenburg?s Foreign Minister Alexandre Vallier has accepted an invitation from the king to form a new government.

    King ?douard III has formally invited Alexandre Vallier to form the new government. The request followed the resignation on Sunday of Prime Minister Selene Clarke, who faces corruption inquiries.

    Vallier last week replaced Clarke as leader of the Liberal Party, the largest party in the Luvenburgish Parliament.

    He now has 15 days to form a coalition. King ?douard III had been holding consultations with a number of parties. He had been inviting opinions on who the party leaders wanted to see as prime minister or whether they were seeking early elections.

    **Coalition deadline **

    If Vallier is successful in building a government, he should be able to govern until elections in 2012. But he said that if he failed to do so, he would call an early election.

    Clarke is likely to remain as caretaker prime minister while Vallier tries to form the new government.

    Vallier needs to build a coalition representing at least 243 seats in the 484-seat Chamber of Deputies.

    Vallier met Health Minister Henri d?Aguesseaue, who is head of the Green Party, the fourth largest parliamentary bloc, to negotiate a possible partnership.

    Several right-of-centre parties have called for early elections, arguing that any coalition formed by Vallier would not offer stable government. Opinion polls suggest that the Conservative Party would benefit from an early poll.

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    Prime Minister-designate Alexandre Vallier is beginning the task of putting together a new government after his election as leader of the ruling Liberal Party.

    He has 15 days to form a coalition and replace Selene Clarke as prime minister.

    The leadership vote was called after Clarke, who remains as caretaker prime minister, announced she would step down to fight corruption allegations.

    Vallier narrowly beat Defense Minister Jacques Duplessis by just 1746 votes, or 4.1%, in Friday's leadership vote. In a victory speech, he said he would approach the job of prime minister with ?great reverence.?

    **'Demands' **

    Vallier met with his two defeated rivals ? Duplessis, Finance Minister ?lisabeth L?vesque - in an attempt to form a united front before launching negotiations on forming a new coalition.

    He also reportedly met the leader of the Green Party, Health Minister Henri d?Aguesseaue, to discuss continuing its participation in the governing alliance. Analysts say the Green?s poor standing in the polls means it is likely to seek to maintain the coalition in order to avoid facing an early general election.

    The head of the center-right National Reform Party, Marie Laporte, was quick to lay out its conditions for taking part in a new coalition on Thursday, including setting a timetable for withdrawal from Neo-Venetia.

    ?If Vallier wants a government, he needs to comply with our demands," she said. The National Reform is the smallest partner in the outgoing governing coalition.

    The centre-right opposition Conservative Party, which is currently leading in the polls, immediately called for a general election.

    ?Forming a new government based on the votes of Liberal Party members would be a legal farce,? said Conservative leader Louis Picard.

    ?The parties should display national responsibility, sit together and determine an agreed-upon date for a new general election,? he added.

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    Luvenburg?s Liberal and Green parties have reached a draft coalition deal that brings Alexandre Vallier a step closer to becoming PM, his spokesman has said.

    Foreign Minister Vallier took over the Liberal Party from outgoing Prime Minister Selene Clarke last month when she stepped down to face a corruption inquiry.

    He is in talks with other parties as the Greens partnership would leave him short of a parliamentary majority. The two parties were also partners in Selene Clarke?s outgoing government.

    Vallier has until mid-April to form a government or a general elections is likely.

    Opinion polls suggest that the center-right Conservative Party, led by Louis Picard, would be elected if an early vote were held.

    A deal with the Greens would give Vallier 213 of the 243 seats in the Chamber of Deputies that he needs to form the next government.

    Analysts say he might to have to offer major concessions to persuade the smaller center-right National Reform to join the coalition. Vallier might also choose to seek a solid left coalition with the Socialists, the third largest bloc in parliament.

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    The National Reform Party says it will not join the coalition Alexandre Vallier is trying to form, in a major setback for the would-be Luvenburgish Prime Minister.

    Vallier, leader of the Liberal Party, the largest party in Parliament, said Luvenburg would face elections if he had not formed a government by Sunday.

    He has the support of the Green Party but is still short of a majority.

    Analysts say the move is a blow to Vallier, but he may still be able to form a government with the Socialists as a partner.

    The center-right National Reform Party said it had decided not to continue negotiations with the Liberals, after the parties were unable agree on foreign policy issues.

    Vallier?s deal with the Greens gives him a total of 213 seats in the 484-member Chamber of Deputies.

    With 43 seats, the National Reform would have allowed for Vallier to gain a majority in Parliament.

    Vallier could still form a government with the left-wing Socialist Party.

    He has another 2 days to continue coalition building. But he has said she will announce on Sunday whether he has been successful, in what is widely seen as an ultimatum to potential partners.

    If he is unable to form a government, King ?douard III may ask another MP to try to do so, or call elections.

    Vallier was voted head of the Liberals after Prime Minister Selene Clarke said she would step down in the face of a corruption investigation.

    Polls suggest the opposition Conservative Party, led by Louis Picard would gain most seats in a general election.

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    The Liberals are in ?optimistic? coalition talks with the Socialist Party

    The Liberal Party today confirmed that they are in the final stages of talks with the Socialists, the third largest bloc in Parliament.

    The move comes after the center-right National Reform ended coalition talks with the Liberals and joined the Conservatives calls for a snap election.

    A party spokesperson announced that Prime Minister-designate Alexandre Vallier is in serious talks to establish a Liberal-led leftist coalition government with the Socialists and the Greens as junior partners.

    A coalition between the three parties now seems the most likely step forward. If successful, the resulting coalition will control a wide majority in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.

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    The Liberals sign coalition deal with the Socialists after a common ground is achieved on the formation of the new government.

    The final round of negotiations between the Liberals and the Socialists were concluded with both parties developing a ?general understanding? on the formation of the new government.

    The cabinet will be composed of 16 ministers in addition to the prime minister. This is an increase of two seats from the Clarke cabinet. In the deal, the Liberals will retain the premiership and 8 ministerial portfolios. The Socialists secured 5 ministerial portfolios. Meanwhile, the Greens will be awarded 3 cabinet posts.

    Correspondents say Prime Minister-designate Alexandre Vallier will be bringing in many fresh faces to the cabinet. Early reports state that outgoing Finance Minister ?lisabeth L?vesque (pictured) will become foreign minister. She is also expected to be appointed deputy prime minister and deputy leader of the Liberal Party. L?vesque came a distant third in the Liberal Party leadership vote last month.

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    Socialists leader Jean-Pierre Verne will assume the defense portfolio and Greens leader, Henri d'Aguesseau, will become minister of the interior.

    Vallier will command a significant majority in both house of parliament. The new government will be supported by 281 of 484 deputies, 58%, in the Chamber of Deputies and 134 of 242 senators, 55.5%, in the Senate.

    Vallier is reported to have to agreed to several compromises with the new coalition partners including establishing a timetable to return the majority of Luvenburgish troops home. The government will also create a carbon tax that will be coupled with reductions to income tax rates. There are also rumors that the new government will legalize prostitution.

    Within days, the prime minister-designate and his cabinet will be formally sworn in by King ?douard III. Vallier will then submit his government?s composition and programs to the Chamber of Deputies for a vote of confidence.

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    Alexandre Vallier has been sworn in as the 40th prime minister of Luvenburg

    Alexandre Vallier was sworn in as Luvenburg's 40th prime minister on Monday, 19 days after his election as leader of Liberal Party.

    Accompanied by his wife, Marie-Claire, Vallier arrived at the Palace of Piedmont at about 10:05 a.m.

    "It is an exhilarating feeling of great responsibility to be sworn in as the 40th prime minister of Luvenburg," said Vallier at a news conference after the swearing-in ceremony at the king?s official residence in Truva.

    He named a 17-member cabinet, including himself. The average age of the new cabinet is 58. Five women and 11 men were appointed to the cabinet in the new government. Seven ministers remained from the Clarke Ministry, four Liberals and three Greens. However, no minister retained their portfolio in the new government. Vallier named ?lisabeth L?vesque as deputy prime minister as well as foreign minister.

    The roughly two-hour swearing-in ceremony began after Vallier Clarke?s private audience with King ?douard III. Vallier then presented the king with his list of ministers. The procedure ended with an official group cabinet photo just after noon.

    The cabinet composition is as follows:
    Prime Minister: Alexandre VALLIER, Liberal
    Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs: ?lisabeth L?VESQUE, Liberal
    Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries: Jean-Jacques LEGRAND, Liberal
    Minister of Culture: Jacques DUPUIS, Socialist
    Minister of Defense: Jean-Pierre Verne, Socialist
    Minister of Finance: Celie LESAGE, Liberal
    Minister of Education and Science: Claude NORMANDEAU, Liberal
    Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Nathalie M?NARD, Liberal
    Minister of Environmental Affairs: Pierre NECKER, Green
    Minister of Health: Esioff-L?on FAUTEUX, Liberal
    Minister of Housing and Urban Development: Marguerite THIBAULT, Socialist
    Minister of Industry and Commerce: Henri DU PONTE
    Minister of Interior: Henri D?AGUESSEAU, Green
    Minister of Justice: Ren? LETARD, Liberal
    Minister of Labor: Louis-Phillippe P?RODEAU, Socialist
    Minister of Tourism Pierre TH?RIAULT, Liberal
    Minister of Transportation Alain OLLIVIER, Liberal

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    New controversial Angleteric ambassador appointed to Luvenburg

    Mervyn Dawkins has been appointed as the new Angleteric ambassador to Truva. Mr Dawkins has a reputation for speaking his mind and provoking international blunders.

    The appointment marks a step forward in the Luvenburgish-Angleteric relations after Luvenburg recalled its ambassador in protest of Angelter?s actions in Neo-Venetia.

    The Luvenburgish government is yet to appointment a replacement.

    Although newly appointed Prime Minister Alexandre Vallier is seen as the mastermind of Luvenburg?s involvement in the Neo-Venetian theater, he said to be keen on normalizing relations with Angelter.

    A foreign ministry spokesperson stated that the government ?looks forward to working? with Mr Dawkins. When asked about his controversial remarks the spokesperson stated that new Foreign Minister ?lisabeth L?vesque prefers to work with someone who speaks their mind and means what they say.

    Ambassador Dawkins is expected to be accredited by King ?douard III within weeks.

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    **King ?douard III will host a state visit to Luvenburg by President Evan Burke of Belarum in April. **

    The visit is expected to include extensive talks with Prime Minister Alexandre Vallier and a state banquet with the King. Mr Burke is also expected to address a joint session of the Luvenburgish parliament.

    The Belarian embassy and the Luvenburgish Foreign Ministry said the full details of the visit had yet to be completed.

    The visit is expected to strengthen bilateral relations. The two nations will sign a serious of agreements in the areas of trade, international cooperation, and defense.

    President Burke will be the first foreign leader Mr Vallier meets in his capacity as prime minister.

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    Luvenburg?s Competition Authority (Autorit? de la concurrence) is investigating the Regenschirm Corporation?s pharmaceutical division in a probe on suspicions of antitrust violations.

    Inspectors from the Competition Authority raided the offices of Regenschirm in Truva and Ascalon as part of an inquiry, which is a response to allegation of restricting competition or unilateral abuses of dominant position. The investigation comes as Roche-Aventis, Luvenburg?s pharmaceutical giant, prepares to sue Regenschirm for anti-competitive practices.

    The Competition Authority said it would also look into whether Regenschirm may have created artificial barriers to entry through the misuse of patent rights, vexatious litigation or other means, and whether such practices may violate Luvenburgish antitrust rules.

    If found in violation of antitrust laws, Regenschirm can be fined upwards of Ł75 million. (Ł = Luvenburgish livres)

    "Individuals and the government want a strong pharmaceuticals sector that delivers better products and value for money. But if innovative products are not being produced, and cheaper generic alternatives to existing products are in some cases being delayed, then we need to find out why and, if necessary, take action," said an authority spokesperson.

    The Competition Authority is an independent body responsible for regulating competition law enforcement in Luvenburg.

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    The Luvenburgish government moves to calm foreign investors

    In a press conference, Industry and Commerce Minister Henri du Ponte reassured investors that the antitrust regulators? investigation of Regenschirm are not politically motivated.

    ?The Competition Authority is an independent statutory body. The Government of Luvenburg does not have the authority to influence its investigations or rulings,? stated Mr du Ponte.

    He elaborated that Luvenburg remains committed to free trade and that the move does not indicate a rise in protectionist policies.

    Under Luvenburgish antitrust laws, the Competition Authority must investigate credible accusations of antitrust violations. The Competition Authority?s rulings can also be appeal in Luvenburgish courts.

    When asked if this investigation will affect Luvenburgish-Grobdeutscher relations, he responded that Luvenburg?s relation with Grobdeutsches is sound and ?built on a strong bilateral commitment to prosperity and cooperation.?

    Bourse declines
    The benchmark Boutrex 250 stock index declined 484.01 points, or 2.94 percent, to close at 15,978.81 points on the Bourse de Truva on Wednesday, a three-month low.

    Luvenburgish stocks fell after the Competition Authority revealed it is investigating allegations of antitrust violations in the pharmaceutical industry. Luvenburg?s largest pharmaceutical company, Roche-Aventis, shares declined 14.2% closing at Ł34.23 a four-year low.

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    • Prime Commissioner Jacques Duplessis clashes with EUSC members after bringing forward a debate in European Council over the future of the EUSC. The Soviet Union provided the harshest criticism of the newly elected Prime Commissioner. The Soviet Union, however, failed to provide any alternative to Mr Duplessis? proposals. The Soviet government instead resorted to inflammatory comments and has thus far refused to continue participating in the European Council debate.

    • Prime Minister Alexandre Vallier and Foreign Minister ?lisabeth L?vesque have been criticized for failing to back Prime Commissioner Jacques Duplessis. The Luvenburgish government has remained largely silent concerning the ongoing debate. Mr Vallier is walking a thin line as he attempts to balance Luvenburg?s strategic relations with EUSC member states while refusing to undermine the efforts of Mr Duplessis. Luvenburg has committed troops to the EUSC peacekeeping efforts in Neo-Venetia.

    • The Competition Authority, Luvenburg?s antitrust regulator, expands its investigation of the pharmaceutical industry to include Roche-Aventis, the country?s largest pharmaceutical company. The investigation was originally focused on the pharmaceutical division of Grobdeutscher giant conglomerate, Regenschirm Corporation.

    • The government proposes a new law legalizing prostitution in Luvenburg. The act of purchasing of sexual services was criminalized in 1991 under Conservative Prime Minister Fran?oise Arago. The act of selling sexual services has been legal since 1966. The proposed law repeals bans on soliciting, pimping and running brothels. In their place it sets up a licensing regime for brothels, sets a minimum age of 18 and provides the same workplace protections as other sectors. Opposition leader Louis Picard stated that his Conservative Party vehemently opposes the bill which he says promotes prostitution as an acceptable profession.