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Kiwi opposition leader quits only weeks into the job as poll looms

Politics

New Zealand’s new Opposition Leader has resigned only weeks after being elected to the role, and only months from a general election, citing health reasons.

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National Party leader Todd Muller issued a statement on Tuesday saying he had reflected on his experience of recent weeks and it was clear to him he was not the best person to be opposition leader and National Party leader.

“It is more important than ever that the New Zealand National Party has a leader who is comfortable in the role,” he said in the statement.

“The role has taken a heavy toll on me personally, and on my family, and this has become untenable from a health perspective.

“For that reason I will be stepping down as leader effective immediately.

“I intend to take some time out of the spotlight to spend with family and restore my energy before reconnecting with my community.”

Muller said he would not be making any further comment and asked for privacy for himself and for his family.

New Zealanders vote on September 19 in an election, that if held today, polls suggest Labour under Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern would win comfortably.

Ardern passed on her best wishes to Muller.

“No matter what side of parliament you’re sitting, politics is a difficult place,” she said.

Deputy Prime Minister and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said the resignation of Muller – who he described as a good man – showed the Nationals were “an incompetent lot”.

“Todd never had a chance given the fault lines of ambition, personality and ideology that run deep through the National Party caucus,” Mr Peters said in a statement.

‘National has demonstrated to voters as clearly as it is able that it cannot govern itself.

‘During a time of crisis, when stability and real experience is what the country needs from its politicians and their parties, National’s instability and hubris takes it out of the running for the coming general election.”

-AAP

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