Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said he believed his "party, parliament and country would benefit from new leadership" as he announced his resignation.
"For me right now, therefore, there is a decision as to who is best placed to lead this process forward," Salmond said.
"I believe that in this new exciting situation, redolent with possibility, party, parliament and country would benefit from new leadership."
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is the bookies' overwhelming favourite to replace Alex Salmond as the leader of the Scottish National Party.
- Nicola Sturgeon 1/4
- Humza Yousaf 8/1
- Alex Neil 10/1
- Derek Mackay 10/1
- Mike Russell 10/1
Odds from Ladbrokes.
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond announced the following timetable for his resignation:
- He will not accept nomination to be a candidate for leader at the SNP's Annual Conference in Perth on 13 to 15 November
- After the membership ballot he will stand down as First Minister, allowing the new leader to be elected
- He will continue to serve as Scotland's First Minister until that time
- After that he will continue to "offer to serve" as an MSP for Aberdeenshire East
"It has been the privilege of my life to serve as First Minister," Alex Salmond said as he announced he would be stepping down following the referendum defeat.
"But as I said often enough during this referendum campaign, this is a process which is not about me or the SNP or any political party, it's much, much more important than that," the First Minister added.
Alex Salmond announced he will stand down as Scotland's First Minister and SNP leader after voters rejected independence in the referendum.Read the full story ›
Alex Salmond is set to resign from the Scottish National Party and as First Minister, he has announced.
Alex Salmond has pledged to "work constructively" will all parties to secure greater devolution for Scotland.
Referring to pledges from the pro-union parties to give the Scottish Parliament greater powers, he said "Scotland will expect these to be honoured in rapid course".
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has begun by saying "Thank you to Scotland for 1.6 million votes for Scottish independence."
He conceded that Scots voted against independence, saying "I accept that verdict". He called on all of Scotland to accept it as well.
Both the Yes and No campaigns have been thanking voters who turned out to cast their ballot in today's historic referendum.
Yes Scotland leader Alex Salmond's Twitter account carried a banner saying simply 'Thank you' while his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, tweeted:
So that's that. Polls have closed. What an amazing, emotional, inspirational day of democracy this has been. Now we wait. #indyref
Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont tweeted:
First Minister Alex Salmond has said tomorrow's referendum is Scotland's "opportunity of a lifetime."
In his final speech ahead of the vote, Salmond said the reason the referendum was going ahead is because the Westminster politicians "thought they had it in the bag."
"They thought all they had to do was agree to see off Scotland and then it wouldn't matter, and therefore we can have no assurance that we would ever have such a chance again," he said.
"This is our opportunity of a lifetime and we must seize it with both hands".