Icelandic president to make up mind soon

President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson says he needs time to consider a 30,000-strong petition he was handed yesterday asking him to carry on as President, and that he will let the world know later this week or early next week whether or not he will stand for a record fifth term in office.

The President strongly implied in his New Year’s address to the nation that he would not stand again, saying he could be of more use to the nation in the future if freed from the obligations of office by giving someone else the opportunity to be President — but he never formally confirmed his sentiments.

Guðni Ágústsson, a former government minister and staunch supporter of Ólafur Ragnar, yesterday handed the President a petition of over 30,000 names calling on the incumbent to stay on for a fifth term, Vísir.is reported. Petition organisers had hoped for 40,000 signatures, however. The next presidential election is scheduled for this June.

At the same time as accepting the petition and taking coffee with its organisers, the President also called a press conference in which he made his announcement. The press conference quickly became a source of fun on internet sites such as Facebook, with some joking the President’s dramatic special announcement that he will be making a special announcement soon came too late to be considered for the Oscars.

Ólafur told reporters that he owes it to supporters to consider their wishes, as expressed in the petition and opinion polls, carefully; saying that more pressure has come to bear on him over the big decision than he expected. He added, however, that he was totally serious in what he said at the New Year.

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