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Cowen confirmed as next Irish premier

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Deputy PM Brian Cowen to succeed Bertie Ahern as Ireland's leader
  • The former finance minister chosen to become new head of ruling party
  • He will officially take over as prime minister on May 7 after Ahern steps down
  • Ahern announced on April 2 that he will quit due to cash-payments scandal

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(CNN) -- Ireland's new prime minister will be Brian Cowen, the deputy of outgoing premier Bertie Ahern, his party decided in a vote on Wednesday.

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Ireland's deputy prime minister Brian Cowen will succeed Bertie Ahern as PM on May 7.

Members of ruling party Fianna Fail chose Cowen to succeed Ahern as its new head, a position that also makes him the country's prime minister.

Former finance minister Cowen will take up the post on May 7, an Irish government spokesman told CNN.

He was the sole candidate put forward ahead of the election.

"I am deeply honored by the confidence shown in me by the members of the Parliamentary Party," Cowen told its Web site before Wednesday's vote.

"It is a reflection of the support of the wider Fianna Fail membership throughout the country. I am grateful for that overwhelming endorsement of my candidacy for the leadership of the party at this time."

The 48-year-old is the seventh leader of the party, which was founded in 1926.

He was proposed for the leadership by Justice Minister Brian Lenihan, the UK Press Association reported.

"This is Brian Cowen's day. It's also a fantastic occasion for the party and the country," Lenihan said.

"There is a sense of celebration and great satisfaction that the party has been left in such good shape by Bertie Ahern. It is a united party with great cohesion." Video Watch Ahern announce his resignation »

Ahern announced his resignation last week after coming under pressure from a tribunal looking into his finances and possible illegal payments. Ahern emphasized then that he had done no wrong.

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"I want everyone to understand one truth above all else," Ahern said. "Never in all the time I served in public life have I ever put my interests ahead of the public good." Video Watch an explanation of why Ahern quit. »

Ireland's next elections are scheduled for 2012. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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