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Irish PM resigns as leader of ruling party

01-23-2011 08:21 BJT

DUBLIN, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen announced on Saturday afternoon that he is standing down as leader of the ruling Fianna Fail, but will continue as the prime minister until the March 11 election.

At a press conference held in Dublin's Merrion Hotel, Cowen said he had not been in touch with any of his colleagues and that he had made the decision on his own counsel.

"It is the right thing to do for the party," he told the reporters.

Asked when he had made his decision, the Irish prime minister said it was only when he went home Friday evening.

He said he discussed the matter with his family and made a political assessment of the situation that he decided to come up and make this announcement.

Cowen said a united party is in his view the most important thing going into the general election, set for March 11.

He said he spoke with Green Party leader John Gormley within the last 40 minutes.

The Green Party is Fianna Fail's coalition partner.

"My decision won't in any way affect government business," he said.

Cowen said he believes the government will win the confidence vote to be tabled this coming Tuesday by the Labor party.

He also said he will decide whether to contest the general election in his home town Laois Offaly after a consultation within his party.

At present, Micheal Martin, who resigned as foreign minister on Tuesday, is the most popular successor to Cowen as leader of Fianna Fail.

Meanwhile, opposition parties urged Cowen to step down as prime minister.

"The Taoiseach (prime minister)'s attempt to remain as head of government despite losing the confidence of his own party is another sad example of Fianna Fail putting their own survival ahead of the country's survival," said Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny.

The opposition leader said Cowen should go to Aras an Uachtarain (official residence of the Irish president) to seek the dissolution of the Dail (lower house of parliament) immediately.

"If he refuses to do so, Fine Gael will move a motion of no confidence in Brian Cowen as Taoiseach in the Dail on Tuesday."



Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: Xinhua

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