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New Zealand’s prime minister resigns unexpectedly

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern fights back tears as she announces her intent to resign at a news conference. (Photo by AP)

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced her sudden resignation, emphasizing she no longer has “enough in the tank” to continue in the post.

Speaking on Thursday and holding back tears, Ardern said, “I’m leaving, because with such a privileged role comes responsibility — the responsibility to know when you are the right person to lead and also when you are not. I know what this job takes. And I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice.”

A vote in the ruling New Zealand Labor Party will take place on Sunday to elect a new leader.

Ardern became known globally as the world’s youngest female head of government when she was elected prime minister in 2017 at age 37. Eight months after becoming premier, she became the second elected leader to give birth while in office, after Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto.

During her five and a half years in office, she developed an empathetic leadership style by sympathizing with the Muslim families of the victims of mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch in 2019 that killed 51 people and injured 40.

She led New Zealand through the COVID-19 pandemic with strict measures, which resulted in one of the lowest death tolls. Meanwhile, she was criticized for not having a clear COVID-19 recovery plan.

Despite her efforts, her popularity has waned over the past year over cost of living crisis and rising crime rates.

The country has also been divided politically during her time in office over issues such as a government overhaul of water infrastructure and the introduction of an agricultural emissions program.

Political analysts say Arden’s resignation will give her Labor Party a chance to reposition itself in the forthcoming elections.

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