The Democratic Unionist Party is to begin the process of finding a new leader following Edwin Poots’ resignation after 21 days as leader.
He resigned on Thursday night after an internal party revolt over his decision to agree a deal with Sinn Féin and nominate Paul Givan as first minister.
A majority of DUP members in the assembly wanted to delay the process.
It is believed that Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is the favourite to succeed Mr Poots.
The Lagan Valley MP ran against Mr Poots for the leadership and was narrowly defeated in the wake of Arlene Foster’s ousting.
Mr Poots, who took over as leader in May amid internal tensions about the direction of his leadership and the manner of Mrs Foster’s departure, announced his resignation after a meeting of DUP party officers on Thursday night.
The BBC understands a motion of no confidence was mentioned at the meeting, but not tabled.
Party sources described the meeting as “robust” and said it had become clear Mr Poots knew he had to resign.
The process to appoint his successor could move “at pace”, according to one DUP figure.
There are concerns that the instability around Mr Poots’ exit could threaten the future of power-sharing at Stormont.