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Germany

Bundeswehr bids Koehler farewell with military parade

Two weeks after his sudden and unexpected resignation, former German President Horst Koehler was honored in a ceremony at Bellevue Palace in Berlin on Tuesday night.

Köhler at the ceremony

The ceremony took place at Bellevue Palace in Berlin

Marking a symbolic end to his six years as German president, Horst Koehler attended a ceremony put on by the country's armed forces on Tuesday evening.

A military band played the "Yorck March" as a formation of Bundeswehr soldiers marched onto the park outside Berlin's Bellevue Palace, the official government residence. The band also played "Marsch der Elisabether" by Johann Strauss and William Handy's "St. Louis Blues," which Koehler had requested.

The military ceremony is the highest in Germany and performed only for the president, chancellor and defense minister. Speeches are not part of such ceremonies, but Koehler was invited to a private reception at the presidential office by acting president and Bremen mayor Jens Boehrnsen.

Speaking in front of around 200 guests, Koehler defended his much criticized resignation.

"I made the decision that I held - and still hold - to be right," he said, according to a statement from the office of the president.

Soldiers with torches at ceremony

A military band played 'St. Louis Blues' by William Handy at Koehler's request

Koehler, 67, resigned on May 31 after being criticized for comments he made about the appropriate use of the German military. His replacement is to be voted in on June 30 by the Federal Convention, made up of the lower house of parliament and an equal number of representatives selected by the 16 state governments.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and their coalition partners, the liberal Free Democrats, have nominated Lower Saxony State Premier Christian Wulff for the post.

The opposition Social Democrats and the Green Party have nominated former Joachim Gauck. In the aftermath of German reunification in 1990, he headed the agency that oversaw the opening of the files of the East German secret police, the Stasi.

The opposition Left party has nominated the former journalist Luc Jochimsen.

Author: Andrew Bowen (apn/AFP)
Editor: Nicole Goebel

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