Italian President Giorgio Napolitano Steps DownWorld | January 14, 2015, Wednesday // 13:02| views
Italy`s longest-serving head of state, Giorgio Napolitano, and his wife Clio before leaving the Quirinale Palace in Rome, Italy, 14 January 2015. Photo EPA/BGNES
Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano has resigned, his office said on Wednesday.
"President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano signed his resignation letter this morning at 10:35,” the presidential office said in a statement.
Napolitano, 89, has served as head of state of the eurozone's third largest economy for almost nine years. He said two weeks ago he would he would leave office well before the end of his second seven-year term in 2020 due to his advanced age and health problems.
He is the first Italian president to have been reelected. In 2013, Napolitano reluctantly agreed to stay at the helm for a second term to avert a political crisis, after parliament failed to vote in a successor.
Napolitano has “gained respect as an able and trusted referee of the country’s notoriously unstable political system in the midst of the financial crisis and the multiyear recession that followed,” the Financial Times commented on Tuesday.
With Napolitano having stepped down, Italy's parliament has to meet within 15 days along with 58 regional deputies to choose his successor.
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