Prime min­is­ter quits as party head

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE WORLD -

Ire­land’s prime min­is­ter, Brian Cowen, has re­signed as leader of the rul­ing Fianna Fail party but said Satur­day he would re­main as premier un­til a par­lia­men­tary elec­tionMarch 11.

Cowen’s de­ci­sion to split the role of party leader and prime min­is­ter is highly un­usual and crowns a week of high drama in which a botched at­tempt to reshuf­fle his Cabi­net nearly brought down the govern­ment and forced him to call an early elec­tion.

Fianna Fail’s lead­er­ship con­test will be held next week and Cowen said he would give the vic­tor his full sup­port.

Cowen and his party are ex­pected to be de­feated in the March poll amid wide­spread anger over their han­dling of a fi­nan­cial cri­sis that forced Dublin to seek a hu­mil­i­at­ing E.U.-IMF bailout and trans­formed the coun­try from an eco­nomic star to a eu­ro­zone fail­ure.

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