AN Taoiseach Brian Cowen has announced that he is standing down as leader of Fianna Fail but he will remain on as Taoiseach until the General Election.
The Laois/Offaly TD made the announcement at a press conference at 2pm today on Saturday.
Mr Cowen had maintained during the week that he would remain as the leader of Fianna Fail and would lead the party into the election.
However he stated today that after consulting with his family, he made the decision 'on his own counsel'.
He also stated that his political assessment was it was the right thing to do for the party and also for the country as he could now focus his attention as Taoiseach on getting the outstanding legislation passed before the General Election.
He said it was an internal party matter that he was resolving and he expected a new leader of Fianna Fail to be elected quickly.
He also said that he pledged his complete support to whoever takes over as leader of Fianna Fail.
Mr Cowen has yet to decide if he will stand at the upcoming General Election.