British Columbia premier suddenly quits

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Gordon Campbell, the Liberal premier of Canada's vast westernmost province of British Columbia suddenly quit Wednesday, citing "nasty" politics and the struggling economy in his surprise announcement.

Campbell's personal approval rating plummeted to nine percent and his government suffered a drop in support after introducing a new consumption tax in July.

"At a time like this, everyone's attention should be focused on helping our economy rebound from the global recession and move forward with an agenda that families can see is in their long-term interests," he said.

"It's time for a new person to lead the province."

Campbell also thanked his family for their support, saying: "They have all paid a price for my 26 years of public service. Politics can be a very nasty business, and at times that nastiness spilled over into their own personal lives. For that I am sorry."

Canadian media said he faced growing internal dissent and even a possible revolt as early as Thursday when his caucus was due to meet next.

Campbell was first sworn in as the 34th premier of British Columbia -- home to large Chinese and South Asian communities -- in 2001 and last year became only the fourth to be elected to three consecutive terms.

He told a press conference he has asked his party to hold a leadership race as soon as possible, at which time he will officially step down as leader of Canada's third largest province -- with a population of 4.5 million.

© 2010 AFP

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