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Olmert ready to resign

world Updated: Jul 31, 2008 23:16 IST
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Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel, embroiled in a high-profile corruption investigation, announced on Wednesday he would resign his office as soon as his party chose a new leader in September elections.

In a televised public statement, Olmert said he would not take part in the leadership election for his Kadima party, due to be held in late September, opening the way for the next party leader to try to form a new government.

“I have decided not to compete in the primaries in Kadima,” he said. “I will resign from my role as prime minister to allow a new leader to form a new government efficiently and quickly.”

The announcement marks the end of at least this stage of Olmert’s political career. He has been under pressure in a high-profile investigation, suspected of illicitly receiving large sums of cash over a long period from a New York businessman.

He has not been indicted and denies any wrongdoing, but had already pledged to resign if charged. He vowed in his statement on Wednesday to continue to fight to prove his innocence. The September vote will be the first leadership vote for Kadima, established by former prime minister Ariel Sharon.