BERLIN, March 2 (Xinhua) -- German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere will move to lead the Ministry of Defense as a successor of Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who resigned from the position over a plagiarism allegation, the cabinet announced Wednesday.
Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed the cabinet reshuffle at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, adding that Hans-Peter Friedrich, leader of Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU) party in the Parliament, will be the new interior minister.
De Maiziere, 57, is known as the most trusted ally of Merkel within the Christian Democratic Union party (CDU). He worked as Chief of Staff at the Chancellor's Office from 2005 to 2009 in Merkel's first term.
After the 2009 election, de Maiziere was appointed interior minister of the coalition government that included the CDU, its sister party CSU and the Free Democrats (FDP).
As Guttenberg comes from the CSU, Friedrich's new position maintained the number of CSU ministers in the cabinet.
Former defense minister Guttenberg, who was once labeled as a rising political star and possible future chancellor, resigned on Tuesday following mounting political pressure in recent weeks over the plagiarism allegations on his doctoral thesis.
Some German law professors and plagiarism hunters said more than 100 pages of Guttenberg's 475-page thesis was copied or slightly altered from other works without acknowledgment.
The 39-year-old politician was deprived of the doctoral degree last week by his alma mater the University of Bayreuth. Guttenberg acknowledged serious mistakes, but denied an intention.
The departure of Guttenberg apparently weakened Merkel's position, whose party and the CSU are facing tough regional elections in coming months, observers said. They have been defeat by the opposition party Social Democrats (SPD) in the state election of Hamburg in February.
On Wednesday, some conservative German politicians said they hoped that Guttenberg could come back to the political arena and went on his career with his talents.
"I hope that we will keep him as a politician and see his return as soon as possible," Hans-Peter Uhl, spokesman for interior policy of the CDU/CSU faction in the Bundestag, told German daily newspaper Mitteldeutsche Zeitung.
"There are politicians who did much worse things than him and finally returned to the political stage," he added.
Peter Altmaier, the Christian Democratic parliamentary whip, also said that Guttenberg would need some time to gather himself and then he could decide "if he wants to play a role again in our political system."
CSU leader Horst Seehofer said he hoped Guttenberg would remain active in German and Bavarian politics after a well-deserved rest.
According to a latest poll by German public television ARD, some 72 percent of respondents thought Guttenberg should make a comeback in the future.