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Nicola Sturgeon becomes first female First Minister of Scotland - and vows to tackle inequality

By Lynsey Bews and Karrie Gillett

Nicola Sturgeon has been voted in as the first female First Minister of Scotland.

The 44-year-old replaces Alex Salmond, who resigned from the role yesterday with a final statement to the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Sturgeon took the helm as leader of the SNP at the party's conference in Perth at the weekend, with her selection as the head of Government completed after MSPs voted today.

Speaking before the vote, Ms Sturgeon told MSPs: "We live in a new era of Scottish democracy; those who we represent expect us to give our very best and we, all of us, must ensure that we do not disappoint them.

"They expect to see us debate vigorously but they don't want us to divide rancorously.

"So let us work together to create a future for Scotland that is worthy of their dreams and their trust.

"I ask the support of Parliament today for my candidacy as First Minister, for my candidacy to be First Minister of and for all of Scotland. A First Minister who will always have big ambitions for this country and a First Minister who, day in and day out, will apply herself to the job of protecting our public services, supporting our businesses and tackling inequality."

She added: "I am ready and willing to take on these responsibilities. There is a job to be done, a big job to be done, and with Parliament's approval today, I look forward now to getting on and doing it."

MSPs then completed the process of voting for candidates, with Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson also putting her name forward for the role.

There were 120 votes cast, with 66 for Ms Sturgeon, 15 for Ms Davidson and 39 abstentions.

Ms Sturgeon will now be officially sworn in at the Court of Session in Edinburgh tomorrow.

Mr Salmond announced his intention to quit as SNP leader and First Minister within hours of defeat in the independence referendum in September.

In his farewell at Holyrood yesterday, Mr Salmond, who turns 60 at the end of the year, said: ''Any parting is tinged with some sorrow, but in this case it is vastly outweighed by a sense of optimism and confidence.

"Confidence that we will have an outstanding new First Minister, confidence in the standing and the capability of this chamber, and, most of all, confidence in the wisdom, talent and potential of the people of Scotland.''

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