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Last Updated: Monday, 17 September 2007, 16:03 GMT 17:03 UK
Top Lib Dem 'deciding his future'
Mike German
Mike German has until 14 October to decide if he will stand
Speculation is growing over the future of Mike German as leader of the Liberal Democrats in the Welsh assembly.

Mr German, who has led his party in the assembly since it was founded eight years ago, faces mandatory re-election under Lib Dem rules.

But his absence from the party's UK conference in Brighton has heightened conjecture about whether he will stand.

Mr German said he was consulting colleagues and "making my own mind up in my own time as to what I do".

At least two of the party's six AMs have said they would consider standing.

I think I've come to a view myself, but I'm not going to share that, as that would mean I couldn't have that discussion with people in my own party
Mike German, speaking to the Western Mail

Lib Dem rules state that a leadership election must be held within 12 months of an assembly election.

Nominations will open on 14 October. If there is a contest, the result will declared by the end of November.

Mr German has decided not to attend this year's party conference, saying he returned from a two-week holiday late last week, then went to Edinburgh for a Lib Dem event at the weekend.

He said he had been preparing for the return of the assembly after its summer break on Tuesday.

Asked about his intentions, Mr German told the Western Mail: "I won't say at the moment, not because I don't want to give an answer, but because I'm making my own mind up in my own time as to what to do".

"I've had a lot of time to think about this, I am coming to a conclusion and I do need to talk to colleagues.

"I think I've come to a view myself, but I'm not going to share that, as that would mean I couldn't have that discussion with people in my own party."

Peter Black AM
I believe there has to be a leadership election, if only to make sure that whoever continues as leader has a clear mandate from party members
Peter Black AM

South West Wales AM Peter Black has said he will try to force a contest if Mr German wants to stay on and North Wales AM Eleanor Burnham has said she has "as much to offer as anybody".

Mr Black said: "I've made my position very clear from the beginning - I believe there has to be a leadership election, if only to make sure that whoever continues as leader has a clear mandate from party members.

"There hasn't been such a mandate for 10 years and I think that if Mike wants to stand and he gets that mandate I will happily support him.

"I am seriously considering standing but I will have to see what happens over the next three or four weeks."

Montgomeryshire MP Lembit Opik, who leads the Welsh party as a whole, said: "It's quite possible there will be a contest. I have spoken to Peter Black who has expressed an interest in the roles of others.

"Interestingly enough, while we had an election it was a uniting rather than a divisive experience for the party.

"At the moment, I think Mike German is going to stand. Obviously he will have to make up his own mind."

Cardiff Central AM Jenny Randerson, described Mr German as "a major force in the party in Wales".

She said: "We're going through a normal leadership election procedure and I certainly continue to support Mike."


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