President Michael D. Higgins (L) holds the holds the Seal of Taoiseach as Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny holds the Seal of Government to office, in Dublin, Ireland May 6, 2016. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne(reuters_tickers)
DUBLIN (Reuters) - Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny intends to serve a full term before stepping aside to allow a new leader take his Fine Gael party into the next parliamentary election, the recently re-elected premier said on Monday.
Kenny, 65, became the first European leader to implement a bailout programme and be returned to office earlier this month as head of a much weakened minority government that is scheduled to run until at least the end of 2018.
Kenny had said he would not seek a third term after 14 years as Fine Gael leader and commentators saw him stepping down well before 2018 to allow a new leader prepare for the next election after the party lost a third of its seats in February.
"I've always said that my intention would be to serve the full term but not to lead the party into the next general election. I've made that perfectly clear and that's where I am," Kenny told national broadcaster RTE.
Ireland's second-largest party, Fianna Fail, has agreed to abstain in key parliamentary votes to let the minority government serve its term.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; editing by John Stonestreet)