German president quits over loan scandal (Lead)

February 17th, 2012 - 6:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Berlin, Feb 17 (IANS) Embattled German President Christian Wulff Friday resigned over a scandal sparked by a private loan on favourable terms.

Wulff, 52, announced his decision to step down in a televised speech Friday, one day after prosecutors asked the German parliament to lift the president’s immunity which may lead to a formal investigation of possible corruption charges, reported Xinhua.

A close ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the president had faced mounting domestic pressure after it emerged that Wulff had tried to stop revelations by German newspaper Bild in December 2011 over a personal loan of 500,000 euros (about $650,000) he received from the wife of a business friend at very low rates to pay for a new home in 2008.

Wulff was serving as state premier of the northern German state of Lower Saxony at the time.

The development is causing new headaches to Merkel, who postponed a planned trip to Rome, as she struggles to take a lead in fighting the two-year-old eurozone debt crisis.

Merkel’s coalition government, which has only thin majority and is currently concentrated in fighting euro crisis, has to seek a consensus candidate with the opposition. A successor has to be elected by parliament within 30 days.

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