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Wednesday, January 20, 1999 Published at 17:56 GMT

World: Europe

Ashdown steps down as party leader

The leader of the British Liberal Democrat Party, Paddy Ashdown, has announced that he's standing down.

A party statement said Mr Ashdown would be quitting as leader in June after elections for the European parliamentand as an MP at the next general election.

Mr Ashdown, who's led the party for eleven years, said it was time for someone new to take over.

Correspondents say that, in British politics, Mr Ashdown is credited with greatly improving his party's political influence.

Abroad, he's been active in raising awareness of developments in the Balkans since the break up of Yugoslavia.

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