Gething set to become Wales' first Black leader

FILE PHOTO: Local elections in Britain

LONDON (Reuters) - Vaughan Gething won the Welsh Labour Party leadership contest on Saturday, meaning he will become the first Black leader of the semi-autonomous government in Wales.

"Today, we turn a page in the book of our nation's history .... not just because I have the honour of becoming the first Black leader in any European country, but because the generational dial has jumped too," Gething, 50, said in a speech after the result was announced.

"Devolution is not something that I have had to get used to, or to adapt to, or to apologise for. Devolution, Welsh solutions to Welsh problems and opportunities is in my blood," Gething, currently minister for economy, added.

Zambian-born Gething will replace incumbent Mark Drakeford who in December announced his departure after five years leading the Welsh government, which has responsibility for a limited number of devolved areas including health and education.

Keir Starmer, leader of Britain's Labour Party which opinion polls show as likely to win power in a national election due later this year, congratulated Gething in a statement.

“On behalf of the entire UK Labour Party, we look forward to campaigning with Vaughan in this new chapter for Wales, to deliver Labour governments across Britain," Starmer said.

Drakeford will resign as first minister of Wales on March 19, the Labour Party said in a statement, with the Welsh parliament, the Senedd, formally set to elect the next leader on March 20.

Also congratulating Gething on the win, Conservative British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on social media that he was committed to working together constructively.

(Reporting by Muvija M; Editing by Frances Kerry)