Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Merkel government ‘undecided’ over fate of spy chief



Merkel government ‘undecided’ over fate of spy chief

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) and BfV President Hans-Georg Maassen (left) in Cologne in 2014. oliver berg/afp

Merkel government ‘undecided’ over fate of spy chief

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government was to decide Tuesday whether to fire the domestic spy chief as an explosive row over immigration and the far-right once more rocks her coalition.

The controversy has sparked the second major stress test for a weakened Merkel’s fourth-term government forged half a year ago between her centre-right CDU, its conservative Bavarian sister party CSU and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD).

The three party chiefs last week huddled to discuss the fate of Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the BfV intelligence service – but postponed the tricky issue until yesterday.

Maassen became the focus of controversy earlier this month after raising doubts about the veracity of reports about far-right hooligans and neo-Nazis randomly attacking immigrants in the eastern city of Chemnitz in late August.

Maassen has rejected accusations that he has supported AfD lawmakers with early access to unpublished data and advice on how to avoid surveillance by his BfV.

Social Democrat leader Andrea Nahles has insisted Maassen must go and SPD youth wing leader Kevin Kuehnert, 29, mockingly tweeted that he should either explain his conspiracy theory or “throw in his tin-foil hat”.

However, Maassen has received the backing of his immediate boss, the CSU’s hardline Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who has for three years been Merkel’s nemesis within the ruling grand coalition.

Less than three months on, and with that bitter dispute barely papered over, the conflict over Maassen’s fate once more highlights the deep chasms within Merkel’s coalition.

On one level, both major parties, the CDU and SPD, are distrustful partners stuck in a political marriage of convenience after the AfD, a one-time fringe party, poached millions of their voters in last year’s elections.

But the rift is deepest between Merkel and Seehofer, whose own political future hangs in the balance as his CSU braces for potentially massive losses to the AfD in Bavarian state elections next month.

Die Welt daily reported Monday that Merkel had now decided to let Maassen go, quoting unnamed coalition sources.

According to the newspaper, this could have wider political ramifications: Maassen had reportedly told a closed-door meeting of conservative lawmakers that “Horst Seehofer told me that if I fall, he falls too”.

Merkel last week said only that “the coalition will not break up” over the issue, a claim she repeated on Monday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Cambodia to make auto-rickshaws

    Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend. According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration

  • Howard Johnson opens in Sihanoukville

    New York Stock Exchange- (NYSE) listed hotel franchiser Wyndham Hotels & Resorts Inc (WH) has opened its first hotel in the Kingdom – the Howard Johnson Plaza by Wyndham Blue Bay Sihanoukville, WH said in a February 18 press release. WH said the new 36-storey property in Sihanoukville’