Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund, is arraigned at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York, on charges he sexually assaulted a hotel maid. –AP Photo/Emmanuel Dunand

NEW YORK: The International Monetary Fund said Dominique Strauss-Kahn has resigned as its head following charges against him of sexual assault and attempted rape.

“I deny with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me,” Strauss-Kahn said in his letter of resignation, which was released by the IMF and dated May 18.

“I want to devote all my strength, all my time, and all my energy to proving my innocence.”

He will on Thursday for a second time request release on $1 million cash bail and placement under 24-hour house arrest while he awaits trial on charges of attempting to rape a hotel maid, his lawyers said. He is being held in New York’s notorious Rikers Island jail. “Yes there will definitely be a bail hearing tomorrow,” Manhattan District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Erin Duggan told Reuters on Wednesday.

A mug shot of Strauss-Kahn, 62, taken more than 24 hours after he was pulled from a plane and detained on Saturday, showed him exhausted, his eyes downcast and half-closed and wearing a rumpled, open-neck shirt.

The photograph may fuel outrage in France over how a man who had been viewed as a strong contender for the French presidency has been paraded before the cameras before he has had a chance to defend himself in court.

Polls released in France on Wednesday showed 57 per cent of respondents thought the Socialist politician was definitely or probably the victim of a plot.

The woman Strauss-Kahn allegedly tried to rape, a 32-year-old widow from West Africa, testified on Wednesday before a grand jury. It will decide in secret whether there is enough evidence to formally press charges with an indictment.

“The proceedings are ongoing,” her lawyer, Jeffrey Shapiro, said.

Strauss-Kahn’s arrest has dashed his prospects to run for the French presidency in 2012 and raised broader issues over the future of the International Monetary Fund.

Developing countries are questioning Europe’s hold on the top IMF position, and jockeying to replace him has already begun.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Europe would naturally put forward a candidate to replace Strauss-Kahn if he were to step down.

Germany, which wants a European to keep the job, said the IMF should deal with its immediate leadership internally and that it is too early to discuss a successor to Strauss-Kahn.

French officials said John Lipsky, the IMF’s American number two official whose term ends in August, would represent the Fund at next week’s Group of Eight summit in France.

In Strauss-Kahn’s absence, Lipsky is temporarily in charge of the IMF, which manages the world economy and is in the midst of helping euro zone states like Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

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