DUP leader in Northern Ireland steps down

Amanda FergusonAAP
DUP leader Edwin Poots, who was elected just a month ago, has announced he will quit.
Camera IconDUP leader Edwin Poots, who was elected just a month ago, has announced he will quit. Credit: AP

The leader of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party Edwin Poots will step down just three weeks after taking power, he has said in a statement.

"I have asked the party chairman to commence an electoral process within the party to allow for a new leader of the Democratic Unionist Party to be elected," Poots said.

Hours earlier Poots was opposed by 24 of his party's 28 regional lawmakers on the nomination of a new first minister for the United Kingdom province, a party source said.

They had been angered by a move from the government in London to speed the introduction of Irish language rights in an effort to convince Irish nationalists Sinn Fein to back the nomination.

Poots ally Paul Givan, 39, was confirmed as leader of Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive - put in place by the 1998 peace deal that ended 30 years of sectarian violence - with Sinn Fein's consent.

Poots' resignation adds to political instability in Northern Ireland which is the focus of a trade spat between the UK and the European Union while street violence has been fuelled by anger about restrictions on trade with the rest of the UK.

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