German right-winger to step down

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The Independent Online
MUNICH (Reuter) - The German far-right leader, Franz Schoenhuber, has told Republican party members he will step down this year. A statement yesterday from the Bavarian chapter of the Republicans coincided with a demand from within the party for Mr Schoenhuber to quit because he had spoilt the party's chances in October's general election.

Mr Schoenhuber, a former Waffen-SS member, has come under fire for holding talks with Gerhard Frey, leader of the ultra- nationalist German People's Union (DVU), officially listed as a racist and anti-constitutional group. He announced at a party meeting on Wednesday that 'he will not be standing for re-election as party chairman in the autumn of 1994', the Bavarian chapter said.

Earlier, the Republican chapter in North Rhine- Westphalia called on Mr Schoenhuber to resign because it objected to his talks with the DVU. 'Through this action Schoenhuber reduces the party's election chances,' the chapter said.

Mr Schoenhuber, 71, has denied forming an alliance with the DVU, saying the talks only aimed to stop feuding within the far- right.

The North Rhine-Westphalia chapter, the Republicans' biggest, called for a special session of the party's board 'to correct Schoenhuber's actions'. Until meeting Mr Frey - a rich publisher of far-right magazines and friend of Russian nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky - Mr Schoenhuber had made every effort to present his Republicans as an acceptable patriotic party without neo- Nazi leanings.

Several setbacks in recent elections have prompted him to look outside for help in surviving another expected defeat in October's election, analysts say.