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Luxembourg Prime Minister Juncker poised to resign over spy scandal

Luxembourg's premier, Jean-Claude Juncker, has said he plans to resign and call fresh elections. The move followed a debate in parliament over his role in corruption allegations against the country's intelligence agency.

Juncker told parliament he would offer his government's resignation and call for early elections on Thursday morning.

"There was no other choice than to hand in the government's resignation," he said following a heated seven-hour parliamentary debate Wednesday evening. He added that he would hand in the official resignation to the grand duke following a cabinet meeting.

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Future of Jean-Claude Juncker uncertain

It was not immediately clear whether Juncker, the European Union's longest serving prime minister, would seek another term as premier.

His announcement came after the prime minister's junior coalition partners, the Social Democrats, withdrew their support, over his role in corruption allegations against Luxembourg's spy agency, the SREL.

The parliamentary debate concerned a report which alleged not only that SREL members had illegally wired tapped politicians and accepted bribes, but also that Juncker had failed to maintain appropriate influence over the branch, which falls under his duties as head of government.

Juncker denies culpability

Ahead of the announcement Juncker gave a defiant two-hour speech in parliament, defending his record. He had argued that he could not be found personally responsible for the agency's problems.

"The intelligence service was not my top priority," Juncker told parliament. "Moreover, I hope Luxembourg will never have a prime minister who sees SREL as [his or her] priority."

The report stems from a parliamentary commission's inquiry into the intelligence service after the publication of a secretly recorded conversation in 2007 between Juncker and Marco Mille, the head of the SREL at the time.

The report also alleged that Juncker had neglected "too often…to inform the parliamentary control committee or the judiciary of [the agency's] irregularities, aberrations and illegalities."

Juncker, 58, has held the Luxembourg premiership as leader of the country's Christian Social Party (CSV) since 1995.

The heavy-weight politician earned a reputation for similarly wry remarks during his time as the head of the Eurogroup from 2005 to 2013, during which time he focused much of his energy on tackling the eurozone crisis.

ccp/jr (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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