German President Christian Wulff has announced his resignation Friday, less then 24 hours after prosecutors called for his immunity to be lifted amid a scandal over a home loan that he accepted when he served as governor of Lower Saxony.
Announcing his resignation at Berlin’s Bellevue Palace, Wulff said he “enjoyed exercising” presidential office, and added Germany “needs a president who can address the massive national and international challenges unhindered".
"The developments of the last days and weeks have shown that this confidence, and with that my effectiveness, has continued to be affected. For this reason it is no longer possible any more for me to perform the office of the federal presidency either domestically or abroad, as it is necessary."
The German Chancellor,, cancelled a visit to the Italian Prime Minister, Mario Monti, in order to deal with the resignation of Wulff, who is a member of her Christian Democratic Union party and has been her personal choice for president.
Stating she had received Wulff's resignation with "great respect and deep regret", Merkel also noted the case has been a proof the German legal system treats all people equally, regardless of their position.
Wulff’s resignation comes as an epilogue of the scandal which erupted in December last year, when the German Bild newspaper reported he had misled the state parliament about a 500,000 euro home loan from the wife of a wealthy businessman, Egon Geerkens, in October 2008, when he was governor of Lower Saxony.
In an attempt to prevent the story from being published Wulff threatened the Chief Editor of Bild, only to state last month it was a “grave mistake”.
Christian Wulff is the second German President to step down in less than two years. His predecessor, Horst Koehler, resigned unexpectedly after being criticized for remarks in which he said military deployments in Afghanistan with the German economic interests.