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German Defense Minister resigns from all political offices over a plagiarism row. Now Chancellor Angela Merkel will have to contest the March polls without her most popular minister.
German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, embroiled in a plagiarism scandal, resigns from all his political offices on Tuesday.
He was stripped of his doctorate after admitting last week his PhD dissertation was flawed.
Guttenberg, was the most popular member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet.
Merkel had backed Guttenberg because she needed the only bright spot in her cabinet for March elections.
He apologized to parliament after being accused of copying parts of the dissertation without correct attribution.
He previously rejected charges of plagiarism and refused to resign over the affair.
Guttenberg, 39, has long been the most popular minister in Merkel's cabinet.
But the aristocrat's popularity was based on his carefully nurtured image for honesty and integrity.
German media have found scores of copied passages in his dissertation.
He said he made mistakes but not deliberately.
In recent days some conservatives distanced themselves from him.
Education minister Annette Schavan on Monday called Guttenberg's actions shameful.
Parliamentary president Norbert Lammert was quoted saying it's "a nail in the coffin for confidence in democracy."