German Chancellor Angela Merkel reshuffled her four-week old cabinet following the resignation of Labour Minister Franz-Josef Jung over an alleged cover up of civilian casualties in a NATO air strike in Afghanistan last September.
Ms. Merkel, moved swiftly to defuse the tension in the cabinet by accepting Jung’s decision to leave and replaced him with the present Minister for Family Affairs Ursula von der Leyen.
Ms. Merkel made little effort to defend the embattled minister, who was a close political ally and one of four cabinet colleagues belonging to her Christian Social Democratic Party (CDU) she took with her from the former “grand coalition.”
Mr. Jung tried to remain in the cabinet by expressing his innocence in the affair before parliamentarians in the Bundestag on Thursday, but he could not win the support of the chancellor or his party’s parliamentary group.
At a hurriedly-convened news conference, Mr. Jung announced his decision to step down taking “political responsibility” for his former ministry’s handling of the information on the air strike in Kundus.
However, he denied any wrong doing and reiterated his position that he had informed the German public and parliament “always correctly” about the incident on the basis of information he had received.