Partial autonomy granted to rival Belgian regions

The Belgian Parliament approved a bill Tuesday that grants partial autonomy to the country's rival Dutch and French-speaking regions. The bill establishes regional assemblies and executives in Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia.

The new regional bodies will control cultural matters, public health, roads, and urban projects. Major decisions on financial policy and military, legal, and educational affairs will remain in the hands of the central government.

The establishment of the regional bodies is aimed at easing hostility between the country's 5.5 million Flemish and the 4 million French-speakers.

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