THE SNP's special conference on the path to indyref2 has been postponed, the party have announced.

It comes as the timetable for the leadership contest was released following Nicola Sturgeon's resignation.

After a meeting of the party’s national executive committee on Thursday night those eying the top job have until February 24 to choose submit their nomination, with the vote open between March 13 and 27.

The results of the contest will be made public as soon as the result is determined, the party said, and after the candidates have been told.

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Health Secretary Humza Yousaf is expected to announce he is running to become Scotland’s next first minister but MP Joanna Cherry has ruled herself out of the battle.

Lorna Finn, the party’s national secretary, said: “I am pleased to confirm that SNP NEC has tonight agreed a timetable for party members to select a new leader of our party and country.

“Nicola has been the outstanding politician of this generation. We are very fortunate that she will remain an SNP MSP and a leading campaigner for an independent Scotland.

“But the SNP is full of talented individuals - and they now have the opportunity to put themselves forward and our new leader will lead us into the final phase of Scotland’s journey towards independence.

The National: The SNP has been forced to delay a key conference after Nicola Sturgeon resignedThe SNP has been forced to delay a key conference after Nicola Sturgeon resigned

“Should there be a contest, with two or more applicants, then the selection of the new leader will be held on a democratic one-member-one-vote basis.

“Nominations for Leader opened at 23:59 on 15 February 2023 and will close at 12:00 on 24 February 2023.

“The ballot will be open at noon on 13 March 2023 and will close at noon on 27 March 2023."

The SNP had planned for members to meet on March 19 to discuss the strategy for a second independence referendum.

The National: The SNP's special conference will be postponedThe SNP's special conference will be postponed

Sturgeon had backed the use of the next general election as a de facto referendum.

But the party on Thursday said that would be postponed.

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Finn said: “Democracy is in crisis in the UK right now, but the SNP and Scotland’s future must and will be decided by the ballot box.

“It would be wrong to have a newly elected leader tied to a key decision on how we deliver democracy in Scotland in the face of continued Westminster intransigence.

“Therefore, the party’s Special Democracy Conference, previously planned for Sunday March 19, is postponed.

“SNP Members - the lifeblood of this party and movement - will be updated in due course on details of a rearranged event once the new party leader is in place.”