Former presidents snub successor

Germany’s four living former presidents have dealt a humiliating blow to their disgraced successor Christian Wulff, who resigned last month over a political favours scandal, by saying they will shun a torchlit military parade in his honour.

Nearly three weeks after quitting, Mr Wulff continues to make headlines for accepting an annual pension of €199,000 for the rest of his life despite spending just 20 months in office.

Mr Wulff stood down after prosecutors said they suspected he had accepted undue privileges and asked parliament to lift his immunity. It was a blow to Chancellor Angela Merkel who chose him for the role.

In a sign of the depth of feeling against Mr Wulff, Germany’s four living former presidents have declined to take part in Thursday’s parade of honour. They are Walter Scheel, Richard von Weizsaecker, Roman Herzog and Horst Koehler.

Ms Merkel’s government has been forced to defend the traditional ceremony at which soldiers in dress uniform play music and hold torches aloft.

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Mr Wulff has requested the band play Over the Rainbow, from the film The Wizard of Oz, at the ceremony, which is held for outgoing presidents, chancellors and defence ministers.

Several opposition politicians have also hit out at the idea of holding the ceremony.