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DUP officers to agree leadership election date DUP officers meeting over leadership election date
(32 minutes later)
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and Edwin Poots are in the running for the DUP leadershipSir Jeffrey Donaldson and Edwin Poots are in the running for the DUP leadership
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) officers are to meet on Tuesday to discuss the procedure and timetable for the election of a new party leader. Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) officers are meeting to discuss the procedure and timetable for the election of a new party leader.
Stormont Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots and MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson are bidding to succeed Arlene Foster.Stormont Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots and MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson are bidding to succeed Arlene Foster.
It is the first leadership contest in the party's 50-year history.It is the first leadership contest in the party's 50-year history.
Mrs Foster is stepping down as party leader on 28 May and resigning as first minister of Northern Ireland at the end of June.Mrs Foster is stepping down as party leader on 28 May and resigning as first minister of Northern Ireland at the end of June.
The DUP's team of officers must allow at least seven days from when they meet when deciding a date for the election.The DUP's team of officers must allow at least seven days from when they meet when deciding a date for the election.
The outcome of the meeting is expected to be known later on Tuesday.
Contenders claim 'significant support'Contenders claim 'significant support'
Mr Poots began his leadership bid last Thursday, while Sir Jeffrey announced his bid on Monday, the 100th anniversary of the formation of Northern Ireland.Mr Poots began his leadership bid last Thursday, while Sir Jeffrey announced his bid on Monday, the 100th anniversary of the formation of Northern Ireland.
Several senior DUP Stormont assembly members and the MP Paul Girvan have declared their support for Mr Poots.Several senior DUP Stormont assembly members and the MP Paul Girvan have declared their support for Mr Poots.
The Lagan Valley assembly member has said that if he is elected he would not take on the role of first minister - it is understood he would want to remain agriculture minister.
Mr Poots confirmed this when he addressed the NI assembly on Tuesday.
Arlene Foster will step down as DUP leader on 28 MayArlene Foster will step down as DUP leader on 28 May
Speaking in the Northern Ireland Assembly on Tuesday, the Lagan Valley MLA confirmed he had "no desire" to hold the position of first minister should he be elected DUP leader.
It is understood he would want to remain agriculture minister.
Sir Jeffrey, the MP for Lagan Valley, has the backing of MPs Gavin Robinson and Jim Shannon as well as Education Minister Peter Weir and Junior Minister Gordon Lyons.Sir Jeffrey, the MP for Lagan Valley, has the backing of MPs Gavin Robinson and Jim Shannon as well as Education Minister Peter Weir and Junior Minister Gordon Lyons.
Campaigners for both contenders claim their candidate has significant support within the party ranks.Campaigners for both contenders claim their candidate has significant support within the party ranks.
One person who is very central to all this told me that they thought the likely date for a poll is next Wednesday. Sitting in the Stormont chamber on Tuesday, Arlene Foster cut a lonely figure on the benches where she once ruled.
I don't think it's in the DUP's interest to keep this going too long. She was socially and politically distant from previously loyal supporters who signed a letter of no confidence in her leadership last week, forcing her to quit.
There's not a very large electorate to persuade - 35 people, or 36 if Jim Wells is included, he does not currently have the DUP whip at Stormont. Apart for the odd polite smile to those opposite wishing her well for the future, she showed no emotion.
I do believe it's a genuine contest - Edwin Poots' team was more or less claiming victory at the weekend, saying they had endorsements from the majority of MLAs and MPs and they may well be right. As she exited the chamber, one of the men who wants to replace her as leader entered through another door.
But we're also getting similar claims from the other camp, maybe not quite as bullish as that, but Jeffrey Donaldson wouldn't be in this if he didn't think he could win. Unlike Mrs Foster, Edwin Poots shared the benches with those who have already expressed support for his leadership bid.
The one thing that this contest is doing is it's reopening old sores and it's caused a real debate within unionism, which I think it had to have. The contrast was stark.
The DUP group at Stormont has its first weekly meeting since the fall of Arlene Foster today. One person told me it could be a silent movie.
In order to become party leader, a candidate must secure the support of at least 18 of the party's assembly members and MPs.In order to become party leader, a candidate must secure the support of at least 18 of the party's assembly members and MPs.
DUP facing divisive leadership battle
Mrs Foster announced her decision to resign after facing a revolt from DUP members last week.Mrs Foster announced her decision to resign after facing a revolt from DUP members last week.
She had led the party since December 2015 and was appointed first minister of Northern Ireland the following month.She had led the party since December 2015 and was appointed first minister of Northern Ireland the following month.
DUP facing divisive leadership battle
BBC News NI understands that she will sever her ties with the DUP when she stands down as first minister, with sources close to her saying she thinks it is no longer the party she joined.BBC News NI understands that she will sever her ties with the DUP when she stands down as first minister, with sources close to her saying she thinks it is no longer the party she joined.
The BBC understands that Mrs Foster did not take part in a meeting on Tuesday morning with her assembly team. Mrs Foster did not take part in a Tuesday morning meeting with her assembly team.
MLAs from the party joined the weekly zoom call to discuss assembly business, but Mrs Foster did not join the conversation. The first minister was in the assembly chamber later as Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill responded to questions to the Executive Office.
The first minister was in the assembly chamber later on Tuesday as Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill responded to questions to the Executive Office.