(dpa) - Peter Robinson, 59, has been elected leader of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to replace Ian Paisley, who announced he would step down in March.
The DUP's 36-member Assembly Group recommended Robinson for the top party job on Monday in Belfast. It was expected that Robinson's elevation to leader after 28 years as deputy would be formally ratified at a party executive meeting on Thursday.
Robinson, who is a member of the British parliament for East Belfast, will now also replace Paisley as first minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly in June.
Robinson will face his first test later Monday when he meets with the future Irish prime minister, Brian Cowen, who takes over from Bertie Ahern in May.
The two were expected to announce an agreement that would allow Irish Republic-based financial services companies to locate back offices and middle management jobs in Northern Ireland, Irish national broadcaster RTE reported.
Robinson's position as deputy party leader will be filled by North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds.