Bullying not behind resignation decision in last speech: Ardern

Sydney, Australia, Jan 24 (EFE).- Outgoing New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Tuesday that leading the country has been “the greatest privilege” of her life and rejected allegations she resigned due to the harassment she suffered during her tenure.

“I leave with a love and affection for Aotearoa New Zealand and its older people than when I started. I didn’t think that was possible,” Ardern said in a short speech during the birthday celebration of Maori prophet Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana, founder of the Ratana faith, in what marked her last speech as the country’s leader.

The prime minister will step down Wednesday after surprising the world with her resignation last week.

“I want you to know that my overwhelming experience in this job, from New Zealand and New Zealanders, has been one of love, empathy and kindness,” she said, mentioning the “discussions” over the reasons for her resignation.

Ardern, the world’s youngest politician to become head of government in 2017 at 37, announced her unexpected resignation Thursday, when she admitted she no longer has “enough energy to continue with the work.”

During the five and a half years she led the country, her direct and empathetic management was widely applauded inside and outside of New Zealand, although she saw her popularity plummet amid strict Covid-19 pandemic restrictions and its internal impact, such as rising inflation or the threat of recession.

This generated a growing wave of criticism, especially from the anti-vaccine movement, which culminated in an “unprecedented” escalation of harassment and threats, according to political leaders, although she said this was not a decisive factor for her decision.

“I’m not quitting because it’s hard, I’m quitting because this job carries a lot of responsibility, and I don’t have enough energy to do it justice,” she said announcing her resignation on Thursday.

Ardern will be replaced by Chris Hipkins, also a Labor member, who will be sworn in Wednesday and will lead the nation until general elections are held on Oct. 14. EFE


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