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Wade MacLauchlan is stepping down as PEI Liberal leader after his party finished third in the province's recent election.Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

Outgoing PEI Premier Wade MacLauchlan has announced he will step down as leader of the Island’s Liberal party.

The party released a resignation letter Friday from Mr. MacLauchlan, whose party went from government to third place in Tuesday’s provincial election.

Mr. MacLauchlan also lost his own seat as the Tories won 12 seats, the Greens won eight and the Liberals six.

Mr. MacLauchlan said his resignation will take effect when the party selects an interim leader.

The 64-year-old was a political rookie in 2015 when he was chosen leader of the governing Liberals after a long career in academia.

In his letter, Mr. MacLauchlan said it was a time of “real achievement” for the party, and he has confidence in the Liberals’ future.

“Wade MacLauchlan’s commitment to Prince Edward Island is unwavering and it has been a privilege to have him as our leader,” the party said in a statement.

“We wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”

PEI has been on an economic tear, posting impressive numbers for higher wages, employment, immigration, housing starts, exports, retail sales and tourism.

However, voters appeared reluctant to give Mr. MacLauchlan credit, a sentiment that was reflected in his relatively low personal popularity ratings.

The Tories finished with 37 per cent of the popular vote, followed by the Greens at 31 and the Liberals at 29. The NDP received just three per cent. Voter turnout was 77 per cent, a five-point drop from the 2015 election.

Tory Leader Dennis King, a 47-year-old former journalist and consultant, had been elected to lead his party only two months ago.

Mr. King had praise for his former rival Friday.

“As premier, Wade represented Prince Edward Island well on the national stage and has many policy achievements during his time in office,” Mr. King said in a statement.

The province will have its first minority government since 1890.

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