N.Ireland's DUP leader Donaldson steps down after police charges


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BELFAST, March 29 (Reuters) - The leader of Northern Ireland's largest unionist party Jeffrey Donaldson stepped down on Friday after confirming he had been charged with "allegations of an historical nature", the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) said.

"The Party Chairman has received a letter from Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP confirming that he has been charged with allegations of an historical nature and indicating that he is stepping down as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party with immediate effect," the DUP said in a statement.

"In accordance with the party rules, the party officers have suspended Mr Donaldson from membership, pending the outcome of a judicial process."

The DUP said it had appointed Gavin Robinson, a fellow member of the British parliament, as the interim party leader.

As a member of the London parliament, Donaldson, 61, does not hold a position in the Northern Irish power-sharing government, a key part of the region's 1998 peace settlement which only resumed last month following a two-year suspension.

(Reporting by Amanda Ferguson, writing by Padraic Halpin; editing by Michael Holden)

((padraic.halpin@thomsonreuters.com; +353 1 500 1504; Reuters Messaging: padraic.halpin.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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