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Merkel backs opposition's choice for president

Updated: 2012-02-20 07:09
( Xinhua)

Merkel backs opposition's choice for president

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) looks at Joachim Gauck, joint candidate of government and opposition for the post of president, at the Chancellery in Berlin February 19, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

BERLIN - The German government reached agreement with the opposition on nominating Joachim Gauck, 72, former East German human rights activist, as next president on Sunday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her coalition government and the major two opposition parties will support Gauck to be Germany's next president after meeting both parties' leaders.

Gauck was once the candidate of the opposition Social Democrats and Greens for president in mid-2010. He was defeated by Christian Wulff at the election.

Wulff resigned on Friday after two months of allegations he received a private loan on favorable terms during the time when he was state governor of Lower Saxony between 2003 and 2010.

Domestic pressure mounted after it emerged that the president had left an angry message in the voicemail of Bild newspaper's editor-in-chief Kai Diekmann on December 12.

Germany's president holds a largely ceremonial role, who stands above party politics. The incumbent typically uses his moral authority to influence debates in society and politics.

The new president will be elected by a special assembly by March 18 at the latest. Before a new president is elected, the head of Bundesrat, upper house of German parliament, will carry out the duty of the president.