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The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced the resignation of her close ally, the Education Minister Annette Schavan.

The pair appeared together at a news conference in Berlin. Schavan has quit after being stripped of her doctorate over plagiarism accusations that she denies.

It comes days after the University of Dusseldorf found she had copied parts of her thesis more than 30 years ago.

Schavan says she does not accept the decision and is taking legal action.

“When a minister for research makes a complaint against a university, then it creates a lot of tensions, for my post, for the ministry, the government and the CDU party. And that’s what I want to avoid, that’s impossible, the position (of minister) should not be damaged,” Schavan said.

The case is an embarrassment for the Chancellor, less than eight months before a general election.

Part of Schavan’s role was to oversee universities. She castigated former Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg who also resigned over plagiarism allegations.

Lower Saxony’s Culture and Science minister Johanna Wanka has been named as her replacement.

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