Elin Jones first candidate running for Plaid leadership

image captionElin Jones has been the Ceredigion AM since the assembly opened in 1999

Former Plaid Cymru minister Elin Jones has confirmed she will stand for the leadership of the party.

The Ceredigion AM was widely expected to throw her hat into the ring to replace Ieuan Wyn Jones when he steps down in the New Year.

Announcing her intention on her blog, she said she had discussed her plans with party members during the summer.

She is the first Plaid AM to formally say she will put her name forward when nominations open in January.

Her move is likely to focus attention on who will lead Plaid at its annual conference in Llandudno next week.

'Better served'

Ms Jones, 45, said: "Now, a new chapter is opening for Plaid Cymru.

"Our task is to strengthen our country's autonomy and economy, and to make the case to the people of Wales that our nation is better served by independence than dependence."

She said her party, which performed poorly at this year's assembly election, had to reach out to a wider array of voters.

Plaid slumped to 11 seats, its worst tally since the assembly was established. It makes Plaid the second-biggest opposition party in Cardiff Bay, behind the Conservatives.

Ms Jones has been the AM for Ceredigion since the assembly was formed 1999 and served as rural affairs minister in the previous Labour-Plaid coalition government.

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