Irish PM Cowen to step down as party leader
Despite surviving a confidence vote within his Fianna Fail party this week, Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen announced on Saturday that he would step down as head of the party but would remain premier in the run-up to March 11 elections.
AFP - Embattled Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen announced Saturday he was stepping down as leader of his Fianna Fail party but would remain as leader of the country ahead of elections on March 11.
"Taking everything into account, and having discussed the matter with my family, I have decided on my own counsel to step down as uachtarain (president) of Fianna Fail and leader of Fianna Fail," he told reporters in Dublin.
He added: "My intention now is to concentrate fully on government business and on continuing to implement the recovery plan.
"My decision will allow the Fianna Fail parliamentary party to elect a new leader to contest the general election and ensure the party fights that campaign in a united and determined manner, free from internal distractions."
Despite surviving a confidence vote in his party on Tuesday, Cowen's authority was seriously damaged by a botched cabinet reshuffle that caused the ire of his coalition partners and forced him to announce an election date.
Fianna Fail and its Green party partners were also facing a Labour party motion of no confidence in the government on Tuesday when parliament next sits.