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DUP's leader to be chosen in a fortnight

By Lisa Smyth

Published 02/12/2015

Peter Robinson waves to the DUP faithful watched by Nigel Dodds at the party conference last month
Peter Robinson waves to the DUP faithful watched by Nigel Dodds at the party conference last month

The DUP is set to choose a new party leader in a little over two weeks.

Peter Robinson's successor will be chosen by the party's 46 most senior elected representatives at a hotel in east Belfast on December 17.

It is widely expected that Nigel Dodds will take up the post, while his party colleague and current Finance Minister Arlene Foster has been tipped to take over as First Minister.

The DUP's MLAs, MPs and MEP will select the new party leader. Nominations for the position are now open and will close next Wednesday.

Last month Mr Robinson revealed his seven-year term as DUP leader and First Minister was coming to an end. He is expected to stay in the latter position until the new year.

The DUP stalwart announced his plan to step down in an exclusive interview with the Belfast Telegraph on November 11.

He said: "I am telling you this now because I think it would be disrespectful to the party membership if I was to go through a conference with the pretence that I would be leading the party into the next election.

"I think that they have a right to know what the circumstances are."

Mr Robinson said he had taken the decision to step down because he had achieved everything he wanted to.

"I have told the party officers that I don't intend to fight the next Assembly election for a wide range of reasons, and not simply because those objectives have been achieved," he said.

"I very much take the two-term view of politics at the top."

He added that his health scare earlier this year had not played a part in his decision.

However, he admitted he had slipped back into unhealthy habits since returning to work.

"I was advised to avoid pressure and get more exercise," he wrote.

"For at least a fortnight I kept all of those rigidly, but it is remarkable how soon you slip back into all those old bad habits with this kind of job."

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