New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has unexpectedly announced his resignation, saying it was the ''right time'' to leave politics after more than eight years in power. Graham Mackay reports
A bombshell from New Zealand's Prime Minister on Monday John Key announcing he's quitting next week... after almost eight years in the top job. He's been one of the country's most popular leaders ever. But rather than run for a fourth term- he says he wants to leave on a high. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND, JOHN KEY SAYING:1 "I honestly don't think on a family basis, on a lot of other reasons, I could commit much beyond the next election." Key flatly denies local media reports that his wife gave him an ultimatum to resign. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JANE WARDELL, REUTERS REPORTER, SAYING: "John Key's resignation today caught everyone by surprise. It's really very unusual for a world leader to quit in such circumstances and so suddenly. He was really right at the top of his game, very popular." Key's been praised for steering New Zealand through the financial crisis and natural disasters... ...but he's had a fair share of awkward moments too. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JANE WARDELL, REUTERS REPORTER, SAYING: "One of them made world headlines when he repeatedly pulled a waitress' ponytail, but he managed to ride that one off, he also embarrassingly led a push to have the New Zealand flag changed by referendum, which was greeted with a resounding no by the public. But people still like him, he's consistently voted as the politician people would most like to have a beer with, and they like his straight, no-nonsense talking." Key says he has no immediate plans... but he'll stay in parliament long enough to avoid a snap election for his seat... He's given the thumbs up for his deputy Bill English to take his place- Parliament votes on his replacement next Monday.