Election billboards not for pope, says Berlin

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Authorities in Berlin Tuesday rejected the use of large election billboards to welcome the pope, suggesting they would make the town look ugly and could cause accidents by distracting attention.

The 100-square-foot (9.4-square-metre) billboards are already up and currently being used by Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in its campaign for the Berlin regional election on September 18.

The CDU had agreed to hand over its billboards after the election to a Roman Catholic organisation which wants to put up posters welcoming German-born Pope Benedict XVI, due to make an official visit here on September 22.

But local authorities in the central district of Mitte objected to the move saying such large billboards could only be put up for election campaigns, or "reasons of overwhelming public interest" which they alone decide.

An administrative court ruled Tuesday in favour of local authorities, but the Catholic Credo association said it would appeal the decision.

© 2011 AFP

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