SINN FEIN chief Martin McGuinness has formally quit as Mid-Ulster MP.
Sinn Féin confirmed on Sunday night that Mr McGuinness had served formal notice of his resignation with immediate effect.
It comes as part of the party’s plans to phase out double-jobbing.
His decision will spark a major scramble by the political parties to try and prize the seat from Sinn Fein.
It is expected that Sinn Fein MLA Francie Molloy will be Sinn Fein’s candidate to run for election in Mid-Ulster.
And dissident republicans are likely to put forward the name of Marion Price McGlinchey as a candidate to represent the views of those opposed to Sinn Fein’s peace process strategy.
The deputy First Minister said: “I have served formal notice of my resignation from the position of MP for Mid-Ulster with immediate effect.
“This is in line with my party’s commitment to end double jobbing.”
Mr McGuinness was first elected as MP for Mid-Ulster in 1997.
His resignation will result in a by-election next year.
He continued: “I am resigning as MP but I have no intention of leaving Mid Ulster. South Derry and East Tyrone have suffered immensely as a result of the conflict.
“I can assure them and everyone else that my party, our five Ministers, our MPs, our 29 MLAs , our MEP and our huge number of Councillors will continue the journey we have embarked upon.
“As the political landscape in the north continues to change, as it surely will, we remain committed to the goals of Irish republicanism and to serving the interests of all sections of society. I firmly believe that we can make further progress.”