David Ford has confirmed that his name will formally go before Alliance Party members for a vote on the party leadership this weekend – but has played down the significance of the vote as a “boring annual ritual”.
The veteran party leader has faced speculation over recent months that he may soon be about to hand over the reins to deputy leader Naomi Long.
When asked about his name going forward again for the leadership, Mr Ford told the News Letter that the development was of “no significance” because his name has automatically been submitted every year for internal re-election for more than a decade.
There are no other candidates for the party’s two top roles.
The former Justice Minister said that under the party rules the party leader and deputy leader are automatically renominated each year ahead of the AGM – unless one of the two requested that their names should not go forward.
When asked if people should read into his decision to allow his name to go forward that he wants to serve as leader for another year, Mr Ford said: “People can read into it whatever they want.
“The suggestion...[that there is speculation he might not stand again], I’m probably the last person to know but I think in this room I’m in at the moment there’s nobody who’s heard any speculation that I would be not putting my name forward.”