HUMZA Yousaf has been named the SNP’s new leader.

The Health Secretary was confirmed as the winner of the contest and Nicola Sturgeon’s replacement at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh on Monday after the ballot closed at midday.

Yousaf won by 52% to 48% over Kate Forbes after Ash Regan was eliminated and her second preference votes were redistributed. 

Yousaf has been an MSP since 2011 and has held several positions in Government.

READ MORE: SNP leadership results: All the key numbers as Humza Yousaf is declared winner

Although Yousaf will now likely become the new first minister, this is not yet official.

Sturgeon will now formally tender her resignation to the King and a new first minister will be appointed on the recommendation of the Scottish Parliament.

The new first minister will be officially elected on Tuesday before they are sworn in at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

In the first round of voting, Yousaf received 24,336 (48.2%), Forbes got 20,559 (40.7%), while Regan received 5,559 (11.1%). 

After Regan's second preferences were reallocated, Yousaf had 26,032 votes (52.1%) while Forbes had 23,890 votes (47.9%).

A total of 50,494 votes were cast, representing a 70% turnout. 

In a speech after his victory was announced, Yousaf pledged to “dedicate every waking moment” to serving the people of Scotland.

He will be the first person from an ethnic minority background to be first minister and the first Muslim to lead the country – as well as the youngest ever first minister.

The 37-year old recalled how his grandparents had moved from the Punjab to Scotland more than six decades ago

He said: “As immigrants to this country, who knew barely a word of English, they could not have imagined in their wildest dreams that their grandson would one day be on the cusp of being the next first minister of Scotland.

“We should all take pride in the fact that today we have sent a clear message, that your colour of skin, or your faith, is not a barrier to leading the country we all call home.

“From the Punjab to our Parliament, this is a journey over generations that reminds us that we should be celebrating and always celebrate the migrants who contribute so much to our country.”

Outgoing First Minister Sturgeon was among those to congratulate Yousaf on his victory.

She wrote on Twitter: "I pay tribute to all 3 candidates for @theSNP leadership for rising to the challenge. Most of all I congratulate @HumzaYousaf and wish him every success.

"He will be an outstanding leader & First Minister and I could not be prouder to have him succeed me."

The National: Humza Yousaf hopes to rely on the guidance of Nicola Sturgeon if elected as SNP leader (Jane Barlow/PA)

The new leader pledged to “kickstart” a grassroots campaign that would “ensure our drive for independence is in fifth gear”.

“The people of Scotland need independence now more than ever before, and we will be the generation that delivers independence for Scotland," he said.

Forbes offered her “warmest congratulations” to her rival, adding she was confident the party will now unite behind its new leader.

She said: “I know we will continue to work together, to make the lives of all of Scotland’s people better on the next stage of our journey to independence.

“Whatever the robust disagreements or frank exchanges of the last few weeks, I am confident we will unite behind Humza as our new party leader in the shared and common objective of independence.”

Opposition politicians hailed his appointment as the first SNP leader from an ethnic minority background as a “significant moment” but said he will face challenges leading a “chaotic and divided” party.

The Scottish Conservatives said they have “serious concerns about his ability” while Scottish Labour said an election is needed now.