31 Jul 2008

Israeli PM to step down

6:55 pm on 31 July 2008

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will step down in two months after the ruling Kadima Party chooses a new leader.

He will not compete in an internal election on 17 September.

In a surprise announcement on television on Wednesday, he said he would resign as Prime Minister to allow the winner of the election to put together a new government as quickly as possible.

Mr Olmert has been under pressure to step down over a corruption

inquiry and his handling of recent conflicts.

He defended his record in office, especially his moves to strengthen the armed forces.

Mr Olmert, 62, has been premier since 2006. He was previously the mayor of Jerusalem.