Veteran SNP politician Michael Russell has announced his resignation as party president.
The former education secretary is hoping to move to a new role as chair of the Scottish Land Commission – something which needs to be approved by the Scottish Parliament first.
He has served as the SNP’s president since 2020 and has been a member of the party for nearly 50 years.
Russell has been a cabinet minister across various roles including education and the constitution.
In 1994 he became the SNP’s first full-time chief executive before stepping down from the role in 1999 when he was elected as an MSP for South Scotland.
He later lost his seat in 2003 before returning to serve the same region from 2007 to 2011.
And at the 2011 Holyrood election he became the MSP for Argyll and Bute until his retirement in 2021.
He also briefly served as interim chief executive of the SNP earlier this year following Peter Murrell’s resignation.
First Minister Humza Yousaf described Russell as a party “stalwart”.
He said: “On behalf of the SNP, I’d like to give my heartfelt thanks to Michael for his outstanding contribution to the party over almost five decades – a true stalwart of the SNP and the wider independence movement.
“Michael has been a member of our party since before I was born and, throughout all the highs and lows of that period, he has served the SNP in almost every conceivable way – as a party activist, as chief executive, as a politician and as our Party President.
“He’s a deeply respected and much-loved figure in our party – and rightly so – and has always been there to provide support and guidance to me personally and to many others whenever it has been needed, helping our party to remain anchored to our core values.
“The party owes Michael a great debt of gratitude and I wish him all the very best as he seeks to begin a new and very important role in Scottish life, in an area of work which he has long supported.”
Former SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford thanked him for his decades of work in the party.
He said: “I have had the privilege of working with Michael Russell over many decades in the SNP.
“He is a man of diverse talents and I am sorry he is stepping back from being party president although I am happy for Michael that he will be using his considerable talents on land reform. Good luck my friend.”
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