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Irish prime minister Kenny steps down

Staff Writer |
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny resigned as head of the ruling Fine Gael party on Wednesday, paving the way for him to be replaced as the country's leader.

In a statement via Twitter following a meeting of Fine Gael lawmakers, Kenny said he had asked the party to complete the process of choosing his successor by June 2.

"I want to assure people that throughout this internal process I will continue to carry out my duties and responsibilities as taoiseach (prime minister) in full," he said.

Kenny had been under growing pressure to step down since February, amid criticism of his role in a smear campaign against a police whistleblower.

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar and Housing Minister Simon Coveney are the frontrunners to succeed him as party leader and prime minister.

Kenny, who was elected to parliament in 1975, had led Fine Gael since 2002 and served as prime minister since 2011.