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Northern Ireland's DUP to announce new leader next week

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By Reuters

BELFAST (Reuters) – Northern Ireland’s largest political party, the Democratic Unionist Party, expects to be able to announce its new leader following a vote on Friday next week, its chairman said.

The winner will either replace outgoing DUP leader Arlene Foster as Northern Ireland’s First Minister or nominate her successor.

Foster is to step down as First Minister at the end of June, bowing to pressure from members of her party unhappy at her leadership over Brexit and social issues.

The party, Northern Ireland’s largest, is expected to choose between Jeffrey Donaldson, who leads the DUP in the British parliament in London, and Edwin Poots, Northern Ireland’s agriculture minister.

Both oppose the Northern Ireland Protocol of Britain’s European Union exit deal, which introduced trading barriers between the British region and the rest of the United Kingdom.

But Poots is seen by some commentators as more aggressive in his opposition.

DUP chairman Maurice Morrow said in a statement that he anticipated an announcement on the outcome of the vote at around 1600 GMT on Friday May 14.

(Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Giles Elgood)