New Belgian finance minister nominated

A Belgian government spokesman says economics professor Koen Geens has been nominated to head the finance ministry.

Guillaume de Walque said Wednesday the minister was sworn in by King Albert II, Belgium's ceremonial head of state, late Tuesday.

The 55-year-old Geens faces an uphill battle as Belgium, whose economy is weakening, has a relatively high debt load, forcing the government to further tighten its budget.

His predecessor, Steven Vanackere, resigned after a series of scandals shed a bad light on his Christian Democratic party's financial dealings with a bank that was bailed out by the government in the wake of the financial crisis. Vanackere denied any wrongdoing, but said Tuesday that the pressure of the constant allegations against him limited his ability to carry out his ministerial duties.

Enlargephoto

Belgium's newly appointed Minister of Finance Koen Geens, right, takes the oath of office in front of Belgium's Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo at the Royal Palace in Brussels on Tuesday, March 5, 2013. Geens was appointed on Tuesday after Belgium's Minister of Finance Steven Vanackere resigned. (AP Photo/Bruno Fahy, Pool)