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Kohl Is Urged To Step Aside

January 5, 2000

BERLIN (AP) _ A leader of Germany’s conservative Christian Democrats urged Helmut Kohl to start retreating from politics, the first such appeal to the ex-chancellor since he became embroiled in a campaign funding scandal late last year.

Deputy floor leader in parliament, Michael Luther, suggested in an interview with the weekly Super Illu magazine that Kohl should give up his seat in the lower chamber to ``let younger people move in.″

Other top officials of the party, which Kohl led for 25 years until his 1998 election defeat, distanced themselves Tuesday from Luther’s remarks.

``I don’t share Mr. Luther’s opinion, and I could have done without it,″ party chief Wolfgang Schaeuble, who succeeded Kohl, said on ZDF national television.

Kohl has angered many in his party by admitting he solicited up to $1 million in anonymous political donations in 1993-98 and illegally kept them off the books. He has refused to name the donors, despite repeated appeals by his party to help clear up the scandal.

Prosecutors opened a probe against Kohl on Monday to examine whether he should face criminal charges for financial irregularities. Parliament is investigating suspicions that payoffs influenced decisions during his 16-year administration _ something Kohl strongly denies.

The Christian Democrats’ general secretary, Angela Merkel, strongly hinted last month that Kohl would limit damage to the party if he resigned as member of parliament and also as honorary party chairman.

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