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Finland's conservative leader Jyrki Katainen to step down as prime minister, party leader


HELSINKI — Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen says he will resign as head of the government and leader of the conservatives when the party meets to elect a new leader in June.

The 42-year-old leader of the coalition government says he is interested in becoming a member of the European Commission or taking another European position, but will not run for a seat in the European Parliament in May elections.

Katainen, who has led the National Coalition Party since 2004, told surprised party members on Saturday that it was time for him to step down, but gave no other reason for quitting.

As head of the four-year-old ruling coalition, he has overseen unpopular cuts in social benefits which caused one party to drop out of the government last month.

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