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3rd German lawmaker in a week resigns from Merkel’s coalition over Covid face mask procurement controversy

3rd German lawmaker in a week resigns from Merkel’s coalition over Covid face mask procurement controversy
Germany’s face mask procurement scandal claimed another victim on Thursday, as a third MP quit the government over dramatic revelations threatening to derail Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party ahead of Sunday’s regional elections.

Conservative lawmaker Mark Hauptmann, from the eastern state of Thuringia, announced he was stepping down due to his alleged role in a cash-for-access arrangement with Azerbaijan.

The Christian Democrats (CDU) MP became the third lawmaker within a week to quit Merkel’s parliamentary group over controversies around face mask procurement.

His fellow CDU representative Nikolas Loebel announced on Sunday that he was leaving politics for good after allegedly receiving €250,000 ($298,000) for setting up a deal between a Chinese supplier and the German cities of Heidelberg and Mannheim.

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And Georg Nuesslein, an MP with the CDU’s sister party the Christian Socialist Union (CSU), quit on Friday after reportedly netting €660,000 ($800,000) for lobbying the government on behalf of a supplier. He denies the allegations.

Hauptmann has admitted to helping to broker mask deals for his constituency, but he denies receiving any payment or being involved in any other agreements for medical supplies with Azerbaijan or any other state.

He told German newspaper Die Welt he had “arranged a contact” for a Frankfurt firm to deliver €1 surgical masks to two towns in Thuringia in April, so as to make up for a PPE shortfall in the state.

Although denying taking payment for facilitating the deal, Hauptmann has admitted that Azerbaijan and other countries have paid for adverts in a newspaper he publishes.

His resignation comes ahead of Sunday’s regional elections in Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate – a vote which could prove a useful barometer for German political opinion ahead of the country’s federal elections in September.

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