By PAUL AMES
Fed up with a three-month political standoff, a Belgian teacher posted an ad on the online auction site: "For Sale: Belgium, a Kingdom in three parts ... free premium: the king and his court (costs not included)."
Gerrit Six placed the advertisement on Saturday, offering free delivery, but pointing out that the country was coming secondhand and that potential buyers would have to take on more than $300 billion in national debt.
"I wanted to attract attention," Six said. "You almost have to throw a rock through a window to get attention for Belgium."
Like many of Belgium's 10 million citizens, Six is exasperated about a power struggle that has left Belgium in political limbo since the June 10 elections.
Demands for more autonomy from the Dutch-speaking Flemish are resisted by the French-speaking Walloons, making it impossible to form a government coalition and triggering concern the kingdom is on the verge of a breakup.
Six decided to vent his frustration through the ad.
"My proposal was to make it clear that Belgium was valuable, it's a masterpiece and we have to keep it," he told Associated Press Television News. "It's my country and I'm taking care of it, and with me are millions of Belgians."
EBay was happy to take the advertisement.
"It was a really fun listing made by a Belgian," Peter Burin, public relations manager of eBay Belgium. "This person, in a very funny way, reminded the Belgians what a great country Belgium actually is and it would be a shame to sell it."
However, the company decided to pull the ad Tuesday after receiving a bid of $14 million.
"We decided to take it down, just to avoid confusion," he told APTN.