Edwin Poots has resigned as leader of the DUP after less than a month in the post.
Mr Poots is standing down following an internal revolt against him but will stay in post until a successor is elected.
Speaking on Thursday evening Mr Poots said: “I have asked the Party Chairman to commence an electoral process within the Party to allow for a new leader of the Democratic Unionist Party to be elected.
“The Party has asked me to remain in post until my successor is elected.
“This has been a difficult period for the Party and the country and I have conveyed to the Chairman my determination to do everything I can to ensure both Unionism and Northern Ireland is able to move forward to a stronger place.”
On Thursday, a meeting of DUP party officers was held in Belfast following speculation that a revolt to oust Mr Poots could be on the cards with him potentially facing a vote of no confidence.
The meeting was described as “bedlam”.
It was convened after Mr Poots formally nominated Lagan Valley MLA Paul Givan as Northern Ireland’s new first minister at a special sitting of the Stormont Assembly.
But a significant majority of the DUP representatives opposed the decision.
Following the nomination, Sinn Fein’s Conor Murphy put forward party colleague Michelle O’Neill as Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister.
Sky’s senior Ireland correspondent David Blevins said he understands from sources in the meeting that “the vote against nominating a first minister was decisive within the DUP group – somewhere in the region of 20 MPs and MLAs voted against, only around six voted for”.
Before the meeting of DUP officers at the party’s headquarters in Belfast on Thursday evening, DUP MP Sammy Wilson said any leader who does not have the support of party officers will “find it very difficult” to stay in their position.
“You cannot lead people who are not following you. If you have no followers, you can’t be a leader, can you?”
By David Blevins, senior Ireland correspondent
Three weeks in the job and the new DUP leader is fighting for his political life with the woman he ousted landing blows on Twitter.
A meeting of the party, described as “bedlam”, was still going on when Edwin Poots went to the Assembly chamber and nominated a first minister
At the same time, the meeting he had left was voting 26-8 against the decision to nominate, leaving leader and First Minister in political limbo.
Mr Poots could face a vote of no confidence and his first minister, Paul Givan, could be forced to resign within hours of his appointment.
Elected members of the DUP object to the British government’s offer to legislate for Irish language rights via Westminster at the behest of Sinn Fein.
Loyalist anger over the Brexit border in the Irish Sea has left Unionist politicians with little room for manoeuvre in efforts to save a power-sharing government.
Arlene Foster, who resigned as first minister on Monday, appeared to be enjoying the chaos around those who led the coup against her.
“Just had a lovely lunch… with a good friend. It is great hospitality is open again. Hope everyone is having a great day this lovely sunny afternoon,” she tweeted.