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Ireland's PM quits as party leader

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Ireland's PM quits as party leader

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Ireland’s embattled Prime Minister, Brian Cowen, has quit as party chief.

That leaves the ruling – but highly unpopular – Fianna Fail clear to pick a new leader to take them into early elections in March.

“I have decided on my own counsel to step down as leader of Fianna Fail. My intention now is to concentrate fully on government business and on continuing to implement the recovery plan,” Cowen told a press conference.

By quitting, Cowen hopes to give his party a better chance in March’s election which he called on Thursday. He said he wanted the party campaign to be about policy rather than personalities.

But he may not last that long. His handling of the economic crisis has cost him and Fianna Fail most of its public support and the government faces a confidence vote in parliament on Tuesday.