Feb. 20 - German chancellor Angela Merkel throws her support behind Joachim Gauck after ally Christian Wulff resigns over financial scandal. Jessica Gray reports.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has thrown her support behind presidential candidate Joachim Gauck. At a press conference on Monday, Merkel bowed to pressure by announcing she stands behind Gauck, who is set to take over from Christian Wulff, a Merkel ally. The move avoided a political dog fight that could have distracted German authorities from the euro zone crisis after Wulff resigned due to a financial favours scandal. Merkel told media that 72-year-old Gauck, a protestant pastor and former East German activist, was the right man for the job. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN CHANCELLOR, ANGELA MERKEL "After intensive discussions and consideration of different proposals and possible personalities we agreed on a candidate - this joint candidate is the civil rights campaigner and former head of the state-run Stasi (former East German secret service) archives." Gauck said he was a ready, although bit overwhelmed by the task in front of him. (SOUNDBITE) (German) DESIGNATED CANDIDATE FOR GERMAN PRESIDENT AND FORMER EAST GERMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST, JOACHIM GAUCK, SAYING: "But one thing I know: My main task will be the closeness with the people who say yes to responsibility - who are are everywhere in our country, not only on the political level. And I want to work in the way that people take on this responsibility, and not only stand on the sidelines of the public life as visitors and critical observer." Merkel may still face accusations she backed the wrong horse in the 2010 elections, when she chose Wulff over Gauck. Germany's government is set to approve him as president and refocus its attention to a more pressing issue: a looming debt crisis in the euro zone. Jessica Gray, Reuters