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Ex-Austrian chancellor Kurz quits politics: ‘I’m neither a saint nor a criminal’

Sebastian Kurz stepped down two months ago in the wake of allegations of bribery, corruption; says birth of child motivated retirement from political life

Former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announces that he is quitting politics, two months after stepping down as leader amid corruption allegations, during a news conference in Vienna, Austria, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Lisa Leutner)
Former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announces that he is quitting politics, two months after stepping down as leader amid corruption allegations, during a news conference in Vienna, Austria, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Lisa Leutner)

BERLIN (AP) — Austria’s former chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, said Thursday that he is quitting politics, two months after stepping down as leader amid corruption allegations.

Kurz said the recent birth of his first child had motivated him to take the step.

The 35-year-old said he had always done his best to “move our beautiful Austria a little bit in the right direction,” but acknowledged having made some mistakes during his 10-year career.

Still, Kurz insisted: “I’m neither a saint nor a criminal.”

“I’m a human being with strengths and weaknesses,” he told reporters in Vienna, adding that he looked forward to defending himself against the corruption allegations in court.

Kurz resigned as chancellor in October after Austrian prosecutors announced that he was one of the targets of an investigation into suspected bribery and breach of trust. Kurz’s junior coalition partners, the Greens, had demanded his replacement.

Austria’s Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg talks to journalists as he arrives for an EU summit in Brussels, Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. (Johanna Geron, Pool Photo via AP)

He was succeeded as chancellor by Alexander Schallenberg, the former foreign minister.

Kurz, who denies any wrongdoing, and his close associates are accused of trying to secure his rise to the leadership of his party and the country with the help of manipulated polls and friendly media reports financed with public money. Kurz became the leader of his Austrian People’s Party and then chancellor in 2017.

Austrian media reported that Interior Minister Karl Nehammer could replace Kurz as the head of the conservative Austrian People’s Party and possibly succeed Schallenberg as chancellor.

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