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German leftist leader Gregor Gysi to stand down

Where will Germany's Left Party go? Gregor Gysi won't run for parliamentary leader in the fall. He has led what is now the largest opposition party in Germany since 2005.

Gysi, 67, made the announcement on Sunday at the Left party conference in the northwestern city of Bielefeld.

"The time has come to put the chairmanship in younger hands," he said, adding that it would be the last time that he would speak at a party conference as party leader.

A new parliamentary leader will be elected in October, with his deputies Dietmar Bartsch and Sahra Wagenknecht thought to be strong contenders as a possible leadership duo.

Gysi is

one of Germany's best-known politicians

and has been leader of the Left party - Germany's largest opposition party with 64 members in the lower house, or Bundestag - since 2005.

The party's roots go back in part to the former ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED) of the now defunct East Germany. Gysi himself was a senior political figure in the communist country.

Since German reunification in 1990, he has faced accusations that he was an informant for the East German secret police, or Stasi, something he has always vehemently denied.

tj/rc (AFP, dpa)

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