4 Jan 2014

Indian prime minister bowing out

1:56 pm on 4 January 2014

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India has announced that he will not seek a third term in office.

Mr Singh, 81, has been prime minister in a coalition government led by the Congress Party for almost a decade.

He said on Friday the Congress Party would announce its candidate at the appropriate time, adding that deputy leader Rahul Gandhi has outstanding credentials.

The BBC reports he is one of India's longest serving prime ministers and is widely regarded as the architect of India's economic reforms programme.

However, in recent years, the government has been beset by accusations of corruption, with disenchantment rising steadily.

Mr Singh said it would be "disastrous for the country" if opposition leader Narendra Modi were elected PM. Mr Modi leads the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

"Someone who presided over the massacre of innocent people should not be the prime minister," Mr Singh said in uncharacteristically harsh words.

Mr Modi is the chief minister of the western state of Gujarat and has been accused of doing little to stop anti-Muslim riots there in 2002 which left more than 1000 people dead. The BBC reports he has always denied any wrongdoing.