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New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern to resign

WELLINGTON - New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will not seek re-election and plans to step down no later than early February, she said in a televised statement on Thursday. 

A general election would be held on Oct 14, she added. 

Ms Ardern doesn’t have the energy or inspiration to seek re-election later this year, she told reporters in Napier where her Labour Party is holding a caucus meeting.

“I have given my absolute all to being Prime Minister but it has also taken a lot out of me,” a visibly emotional Ms Ardern said.

“You cannot and should not do the job unless you have a full tank, plus a bit in reserve for those unplanned and unexpected challenges that inevitably come along.

“Having reflected over summer, I know I no longer have that bit extra in the tank to do the job justice. It’s that simple.” 

Ms Ardern’s term will conclude no later than Feb 7. 

She had yet to make concrete plans for the future, except to spend more time with her family, she added. 

Ms Jacinda Ardern holds her newborn baby daughter next to her partner Mr Clarke Gayford in Auckland, on June 24, 2018. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
 

Ms Ardern said she believed the New Zealand Labour Party would win the upcoming election and added that a vote to elect the next Labour leader would be held on Sunday. 

If no one has that level of support, the contest will go to the wider party membership. It is expected that the process will conclude no later than Feb 7.

New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson, who also serves as finance minister, said in a statement that he would not seek to stand as the next Labour leader. 

Ms Ardern became the world’s youngest female head of government when she was elected prime minister in 2017 at age 37.

She led New Zealand through the coronavirus pandemic as well as major disasters, including a terror attack on two mosques in Christchurch.

Ms Ardern was expected to seek a third term at this year’s general election, although she faced an uphill battle as memories fade of her strong leadership during the early stages of the pandemic and voters focus on the soaring cost of living and a darkening economic outlook.

The central bank is forecasting as recession this year as it hikes interest rates at record pace to regain control of inflation. 

Ms Ardern will remain a Member of Parliament until April to avoid a by-election. - REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

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