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New Zealand's Prime Minister Resigns

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announces his decision to resign and stand-down from politics at a press conference in Wellington, New Zealand, Dec. 5, 2016.

New Zealand's popular prime minister has resigned.

John Key made the surprise announcement Monday after eight years as the country's leader.

"I have given everything I could to this job, the job that I cherish and the country that I love," Key said. "But good leaders know when it's time to go and this is the time to go."

Speaking in a shaky voice, the prime minister said, "All of this has come at quite some sacrifice for the people who are dearest to me, my family. For my wife Bronagh there has been many nights and weekends spent alone. Many occasions that were important to her that I simply could not attend. My daughter Stefi and my son, Max transitioned from teenagers to young adults while coping with an extraordinary level of intrusion and pressure because of their father's job."

The prime minister said "Being a leader of both the party and the country has been an incredible experience."

Key, who is a former currency trader, remembered navigating his country through the economic crisis of 2008 as one of his proudest accomplishments. "Very few countries are in the financial position we are in," he said. "We're strong, we're in surplus, we're growing, we're creating jobs, we're doing well."

Key is expected to formally submit his resignation next month at his National Party's caucus. He said, however, he will remain a member of parliament to avoid a special election before next year's general election.

Key said he would back his deputy Bill English to replace him.