Germany deal faces chorus of criticism

Germany deal faces chorus of criticism

"I hereby declare my renunciation of joining the federal government and at the same time sincerely hope that this will end the personnel debates within the SPD", he said.

"We all do politics for the people in this country", he said in a statement, "so it's appropriate that my personal ambitions should take a back seat to the interests of the party".

Many in the SPD fear that re-entering a coalition with Mrs Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Bavarian CSU could damage the party in the long term.

Mrs Merkel has handed all the top ministries in Germany, including finance and foreign, to the SPD - the price the party demanded to form a government with her following an indecisive general election previous year which saw her party's majority slashed by the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany upstarts. This had prompted unrest within Merkel's conservative ranks.

Schulz said, growing debate surrounding his bid for Foreign Ministry portfolio, could jeopardize the upcoming vote of SPD members on the coalition agreement.

Schulz's choice to step aside to help secure an SPD vote in favour of a stable government "deserves the highest respect and recognition", said Andrea Nahles, his likely successor as party chair.

Bangladesh court hands jail term to former PM Khaleda Zia
Zia and three of her aides were accused of syphoning off about United States dollars 400,000 from the Zia Charitable Trust alone. The charges against her had already led to her boycotting elections in 2014, which triggered widespread protests at the time.

"I've just begun my "no grand coalition" tour" of Germany, he tweeted.

CDU delegates will get their own chance to vote on the coalition deal at a party congress on February 24. The result, expected March 4, is unpredictable because many are suspicious of entering a new government after a disastrous election result.

Analysts predict there is little chance they will block it - although the gathering will show off just how much Merkel's star has faded among a base that has always been loyal to the hilt.

The new coalition will put the far-right Alternative for Germany, the third-largest party in the German parliament, known as the Bundestag, in the opposition.

Many grassroots members of the centre-left SPD are sceptical about another tie-up with the conservatives after serving in a similar coalition in 2013-17.

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