Germany's first freely elected parliament in nearly 60 years Thursday chose former West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to continue leading the reunited nation.

The vote was 378-257 for the man who shepherded Germany to full unification less than a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall. There were nine abstentions.Kohl, 60, sat impassively as the vote was announced by Bundestag President Rita Suessmuth and the chamber applauded.