Belgian premier meets with political leaders to avert crisis over early release of prisoners

Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt met with the leaders of his coalition Wednesday, seeking to stave off the collapse of his government because of a crisis over the early release of criminals.

The core cabinet and the party chairmen of the liberal-socialist coalition began talks at dawn to seek a compromise on how much of their term top criminals should serve before they can be paroled and how they should be reintegrated into society.

The Dutch-speaking Liberals want to toughen rules on conditional release while the francophone socialists insist that parole regulations are already more stringent than they were just a few years ago, reports AP.

The crisis comes less than two weeks ahead of municipal elections in Belgium, where the issue of security is a central theme.

The government parties fear a government crisis will also jeopardize ongoing budget talks.

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