Irish Prime Minister Stepping Down As Leader of His Political Party

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Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen announced today that he will step down as leader of the Fianna Fail political party but stay on as prime minister until the March 11 elections. A new leader will be elected at a special party meeting on Wednesday. Cowen said he will concentrate on his old gig — governing the country — while the party comes up with a new leadership candidate. The prime minister has been criticized for mishandling the economic crisis and accepting a $114 billion economic bailout late last year conditioned on an unpopular multiyear austerity program. [Reuters, NYT]