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Schmid toasts his last day in public

Samuel Schmid made his last public appearance as defence minister on Saturday, when he had cocktails with 150 supporters at an informal gathering near Basel.

Schmid, who announced his resignation in November amid mounting critical pressure, will hand over the post to incoming minister Ueli Maurer of the rightwing Swiss People's Party officially at midnight on December 31.

Schmid has served as defence minister for eight years. Critics began to call for him to step down after Roland Nef, his appointee as head of the armed forces, was implicated in a case of sexual harassment.