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DUP officers meeting over 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 meeting 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.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.
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.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.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.
Sitting in the Stormont chamber on Tuesday, Arlene Foster cut a lonely figure on the benches where she once ruled.Sitting in the Stormont chamber on Tuesday, Arlene Foster cut a lonely figure on the benches where she once ruled.
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.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.
Apart for the odd polite smile to those opposite wishing her well for the future, she showed no emotion.Apart for the odd polite smile to those opposite wishing her well for the future, she showed no emotion.
First Minister Arlene Foster (in yellow jacket) in the assembly chamber on Tuesday
As she exited the chamber, one of the men who wants to replace her as leader entered through another door.As she exited the chamber, one of the men who wants to replace her as leader entered through another door.
Unlike Mrs Foster, Edwin Poots shared the benches with those who have already expressed support for his leadership bid.Unlike Mrs Foster, Edwin Poots shared the benches with those who have already expressed support for his leadership bid.
The contrast was stark.The contrast was stark.
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.
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 battleDUP 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.
Mrs Foster did not take part in a Tuesday morning meeting with her assembly team.Mrs Foster did not take part in a Tuesday morning meeting with her assembly team.
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 as Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill responded to questions to the Executive Office.