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Berlin mayor to step down at end of year, German media reports

Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit plans to step down at the end of the year, according to German media reports. The center-left Social Democrat has led Germany's capital for more than a decade.

First elected mayor in 2001, Wowereit has governed Berlin with various coalition partners that ranged from the socialist Left party to the center-right Christian Democrats most recently.

The 60-year-old Social Democrat has come under fire as of late for repeated delays in the construction of Berlin's new international airport. The Berlin-Brandenburg Airport (BER) was originally scheduled to open in 2012, but estimates for the finish date now range from 2016 to as late as 2019. The project could cost more than 5 billion euros ($6.5 billion).

According to the daily tabloid Bild, Wowereit plans to step down on December 11 and will be succeeded by the chairman of the Berlin Social Democrats, Jan Stöss.

slk/sb (AFP, dpa)