German city ousts mayor criticized over parade

AP News
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Posted: Feb 12, 2012 2:38 PM
German city ousts mayor criticized over parade

Voters in the German city of Duisburg ousted their mayor in a ballot Sunday prompted by persistent anger at his refusal to quit following the deadly mass panic at the Love Parade techno music festival in 2010.

City authorities said 129,833 people voted to remove Adolf Sauerland from office in a recall ballot and only 21,557 wanted to keep him. His term was due to end in 2015.

Sauerland has long faced calls to take political responsibility for poor safety planning at the festival, where 21 people died. However, he repeatedly brushed aside suggestions that he should resign and said it was up to courts to decide who was responsible.

The mayor hasn't been targeted personally by prosecutors investigating the deadly crush in the western German city on July 24, 2010, but several city employees are under investigation.

A previous attempt to force out Sauerland, a member of the conservative Christian Democrats in a region long dominated by the center-left, failed in September 2010 because opponents couldn't muster the necessary two-thirds majority in a vote by the city council.

Critics then gathered enough signatures to force the recall election. On Sunday, they easily obtained the 91,228 votes, a quarter of Duisburg's registered electorate, that they needed to force his departure.

The city will have to hold elections for a new mayor within six months. In the meantime, senior city officials will carry out his duties.