New York: Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned as head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), saying he needed to devote all his energy to fight charges that he sexually assaulted a hotel maid.
His arrest after he was pulled from a plane in New York on Saturday dashes Strauss-Kahn’s prospects of running for the French presidency in 2012 and has sparked debate over the more than 60-year tradition that a European is appointed as the head of the Fund.
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“I deny with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me,” Strauss-Kahn said in his letter of resignation, released by the IMF and dated 18 May.
“I want to devote all my strength, all my time, and all my energy to proving my innocence.”
Later on Thursday, the former French finance minister will make his second request to be allowed out of jail on $1 million cash bail and placed under 24-hour house arrest until his trial on charges of attempting to rape a hotel maid, his lawyers said.
He is being held in New York’s Rikers Island jail.
“Yes there will definitely be a bail hearing tomorrow,” Manhattan District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Erin Duggan told Reuters on Wednesday.
A police mug shot of Strauss-Kahn, 62, taken more than 24 hours after he was detained, showed him exhausted, his eyes downcast and half-closed and wearing a rumpled, open-neck shirt.
The photograph is likely to fuel outrage in France over the way the man seen as a strong contender for the French presidency was paraded before the cameras in what is called the “perp walk” before he had a chance to defend himself in court.
Polls released in France on Wednesday showed 57% of respondents thought the Socialist politician was definitely, or probably, the victim of a plot.
The woman Strauss-Kahn allegedly tried to rape, a 32-year-old widow from West Africa, testified on Wednesday before a grand jury. It will decide in secret whether there is enough evidence to formally press charges with an indictment.
New details have emerged about the sequence of events surrounding the alleged attack.
Strauss-Kahn left the Sofitel near Times Square in Manhattan around 12:30 on Saturday and about an hour later, hotel security called police to report an alleged sexual assault, a law enforcement source said.
New York investigators are questioning why officials at the hotel waited an hour to call police after the IMF chief had left in a hurry.
He has been charged with attempted rape, sexual abuse, a criminal sexual act, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching. If convicted, he could face 25 years in prison.
The woman he is accused of assaulting is an asylum seeker from Guinea with a 15-year-old daughter.
In the only public hint of Strauss-Kahn’s possible line of defense, his attorney Benjamin Brafman told his arraignment hearing on Monday that the evidence “will not be consistent with a forcible encounter.”
Any trial could be six months or more away.
Who will next head IMF?
Stauss-Kahn’s resignation will intensify the debate over who should next lead the Fund and whether it is time to ditch the tradition, in place since it was set up in 1945, of having a European as managing director.
Emerging market economies, which are anyway demanding a greater say in how the IMF is run, have also been pressing their case for the global economy’s financial manager to be drawn from their ranks.
China, Brazil and South Africa have all suggested a new approach to selecting to next managing director.
Mexico and Japan called for an open process.
“As agreed at G20, heads of international financial organizations and senior leaders should be chosen based on their ability through and open and transparent process, so I think a suitable person should be chosen through such a process”, Japanese Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda said after Strauss-Kahn’s resignation.
Strauss-Kahn’s departure comes at a sensitive time given the IMF’s dominant role in helping euro zone states like Greece, Ireland and Portugal deal with massive debt problems.
And Europeans argue that because of the euro zone debt crisis it makes sense for them to retain the post.
John Lipsky, the Fund’s number two, is acting managing director until the IMF executive board selects a successor to Strauss-Kahn.