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PM Olmert may resign on Sunday

world Updated: Sep 19, 2008 14:05 IST
Israeli PM Olmert may resign on Sunday

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert may resign early next week, his spokesman said.

"He will notify the cabinet Sunday and then he will go to the president to give his formal letter of resignation," Mark Regev said.

Formal notification to the cabinet prior to a prime minister's resignation is a requirement under Israeli law, Regev explained.

Under the law, Olmert's resignation will take effect 48 hours after submission. The premier's resignation automatically means resignation of the cabinet, which then becomes a transitional government.

The president then has seven days to give the task of forming a new government to someone else - Tzipi Livni, the new leader of Israel's ruling party, who will have 42 days to do so. If she fails, new elections will be held within 90 days, or by March 2009, a year early.

Olmert, plagued by suspicions of corruption, announced his intention to resign in July. His Kadima party elected a new leader Wednesday, with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni narrowly beating main rival Shaul Mofaz with a margin of 1.1 percent.

Livni was set to begin consolidating her power in the faction by holding talks with her defeated rivals Friday and chairing her first caucus meeting in the Knesset (parliament).

However, Mofaz, who she defeated by just 431 votes, canceled his meeting with the new Kadima leader, after dramatically announcing Thursday night he was taking a timeout from politics.

"The time has come for me to take a break," Mofaz told his campaign headquarters in Givatayim, a suburb east of Tel Aviv, Thursday night.