Embattled US politician Anthony Weiner is resigning from Congress, saying he cannot continue in office amid the intense controversy surrounding sexually explicit messages he sent online to several women.
The 46-year-old Democrat made the announcement in his home district in New York after two weeks of fighting off pressure to step aside. Weiner apologised again for "the embarrassment that I have caused" and said he hoped to continue to fight for the causes dear to his constituents.
His wife, Huma Abedin, was not with him for the announcement.
Party leaders have been pressing him to resign so that Democrats could resume positioning themselves for the 2012 election campaign without constant criticism from Republicans on moral grounds.
"I'm here today to again apologise for the personal mistakes I have made and the embarrassment I have caused," he said reading from a brief statement in New York City's Brooklyn borough.
"I make this apology to my neighbours and my constituents, but I make it particularly to my wife, Huma."
Weiner's wife was absent as he announced his decision, as she was 10 days ago when he admitted having sent inappropriate messages and photos to several women online.
The crowd today included hecklers and radio shock jocks, vying for attention at what became a New York media event.
Weiner said he had hoped to remain in Congress but conceded his predicament had made that impossible. Instead, he said he would resign "so my colleagues can get back to work, my neighbours can choose a new representative and, most importantly, that my wife and I can continue to heal from the damage I have caused".
Weiner took a leave of absence and had been at a treatment facility at an undisclosed location since last weekend. Until today's press conference, he had not been seen in public since telling reporters last Saturday he intended to return to work.
His decision to give up his House seat marks the end of a scandal that resulted from the brash New Yorker's use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
He at first denied having sent any inappropriate photos, then recanted in a remarkable news conference 10 days ago at which he admitted having exchanged inappropriate messages with several women.
His confession triggered a tabloid-style frenzy in print and online that only grew more pronounced a few days later when an X-rated photo of him surfaced on a website.
After initially calling for a House ethics committee investigation, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi dramatically ramped up the pressure on Saturday when she joined other party leaders in calling on Weiner to step down.
Within hours, Weiner disclosed his plans to enter treatment, and Pelosi's aides made it known that did not negate her demand for a resignation.
President Barack Obama added to the pressure on Monday, saying it he were in Weiner's situation, he would step down.
Several officials have said in recent days that Weiner was reluctant to make any decision about his career without speaking with his wife, Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who had been overseas since shortly after the scandal broke. The trip ended Tuesday night.
Abedin is pregnant with the couple's first child.
The Democrat's decision to leave Congress marks at least an ignominious pause if not an end in a once-promising career. Weiner ran for New York mayor in 2005, and had talked of seeking the office again.
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