Wilkie Rasmussen has stepped down as the leader of the Democratic Party in the Cook Islands, leaving the path clear for a new leader to be chosen at their national conference next week.
Mr Rasmussen told Cook Islands News he tendered his verbal resignation to the central executive committee of the Democratic Party as leader of the party.
He said he had indicated to the leader of the opposition, William Heather Junior, several months ago and to close friends that once the Vaipae Tautu by-election was over, he would stand down from being leader of the Democratic Party.
A lawyer, Mr Rasmussen said he had planned to resign much earlier when he lost his electoral appeal after losing the seat of Penrhyn in the July General Election last year.
He had argued voters ordinarily resident in Australia should not vote in the Cook Islands even after they had been in the country for the three-month qualifying period.
Now the Vaipae Tautu election has come to an end, Mr Rasmussen said it was the right time to step aside and let the party choose 'new leadership and for them to forge ahead with the plans and objectives of the Democratic Party'.
Wilkie Rasmussen was elected leader of the opposition and Democratic Party after former leader Robert Wigmore passed away in 2012.