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Sturgeon announces bid for Scottish leadership

 on Wednesday announced her bid to replace pro-independence leader Alex Salmond as head of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the regional government.

AFP| Updated: Sep 24, 2014, 15:50 PM IST

London:  on Wednesday announced her bid to replace pro-independence leader Alex Salmond as head of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the regional government.

"I want to serve my party and my country and I believe I am the best person for the job," Sturgeon, who is currently Scotland`s deputy first minister, said in a speech in Glasgow.

First Minister Salmond announced on Friday after his defeat in last week`s independence referendum that he would step down in November at the SNP`s annual conference.

Her election appears a foregone conclusion after two other potential candidates -- Scottish health secretary Alex Neil and Humza Yousaf, Scotland`s minister for external affairs -- ruled themselves out and supported her.

Pro-United Kingdom won the referendum vote with 55 percent but 1.6 million people -- 45 percent -- cast their ballots to break away from the union, an unprecedented number, and the campaign stoked political debate and involvement across Scotland.

"To be the first minister of my country, especially at this exciting and optimistic time, would be both a great honour -- without a doubt, the greatest honour -- and an immense responsibility," Sturgeon said.

The 44-year-old has often talked about how she became politicised in her youth by witnessing Scotland`s post-industrial decline during the "dark days" of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher`s government.

She has been compared to Angela Merkel for her bob haircut and political style and was seen as the brains behind Scotland`s independence campaign because she oversaw the drawing-up of the White Paper, a prospectus for separation.

Born in the west Scotland town of Irvine on July 19, 1970, Sturgeon joined the SNP aged 16 and was soon appointed a coordinator for youth affairs and party publicity.

She became a top member of the Glasgow University Scottish Nationalist Association while studying law, and worked as a lawyer in the city before committing full time to politics.

She scrapped a previous bid for the SNP leadership in 2004 after Salmond announced his intention to run and has proved a key asset in helping to win over more sceptical female voters.