Tags: olmert | resign

Israeli Prime Minister Olmert to Resign in Sept.

Wednesday, 30 Jul 2008 02:25 PM

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JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced Wednesday he will resign in September, throwing his country into political turmoil and raising doubts about progress for U.S.-backed Mideast peace efforts.

Olmert's brief address included harsh criticism of police investigations of corruption allegations against him. He said he was choosing the public good over his personal justice. He has denied wrongdoing but pledged to resign if indicted.

Olmert said he would not run in his party's primary election, set for Sept. 17, and would step down afterward "in order to allow the chairman to be elected and form a different government quickly and efficiently."

His decision not to run in the Kadima Party primary sets in motion a process to choose a new prime minister.

If Olmert's successor as party leader can form a coalition, Israel could have a new government in October. If not, an election campaign could take several months.

Olmert, 62, served as Jerusalem mayor for 10 years until 2003, when he was appointed trade minister in former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government. He held that position until he became prime minister in 2006 after Sharon suffered a devastating stroke.

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