New Zealand Labour lines up Chris Hipkins to replace Jacinda Ardern

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Chris Hipkins is set to become New Zealand’s next prime minister after being named as the Labour party’s sole nominee to replace outgoing leader Jacinda Ardern.

Hipkins, the country’s education minister, had been regarded as a possible successor to Ardern, who announced this week she would step down as prime minister by February, ending her almost five-year term as leader.

The 44-year-old was named in a Labour party statement on Saturday morning, local time, as the only nominee to replace Ardern, according to media reports.

Hipkins, who was first elected to parliament in 2008, is expected to be confirmed as Labour’s new leader on Sunday, when the party’s 64 lawmakers meet.

The New Zealand Green party, Labour’s traditional coalition partner, said in a statement that they were looking forward to working with Hipkins.

“Chris will make an excellent prime minister and we look forward to continuing our work together, for the rest of this term and the next,” said Green co-leader James Shaw.

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