Horst Köhler has announced his resignation as President of Germany with immediate effect. It is the first time in the 61 years of the German Federal Republic that a head of state leaves his post in such circumstances.
Köhler’s resignation follows criticism against remarks he recently made about the German involvement in the war in Afghanistan. Some has argued that it is unconstitutional for the President, whose position is largely ceremonial, to express his views on such matters, while Mr Köhler himself said the criticism showed lack of respect for his position.
Horst Köhler became president in 2004 and, coming from a job as head of the IMF, was the first non-politician to hold that post. He was reelected for a second five-year term a year ago. A new president must be elected by the Federal Assembly within 30 days.