P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz has announced that he is resigning as leader of the provincial Liberal Party and premier.

Ghiz met with Liberal caucus members just before making the announcement at 1 p.m. Thursday, and that was the first they knew of his decision. He said he would stay on until there was a leadership convention, expected in January or February.

Ghiz made the announcement at a news conference called just a few hours earlier.

“I was given the privilege to serve as premier almost eight years ago. Today I am announcing my intention to resign that position as soon as a new leader is chosen,” said Ghiz.

“Earlier today, I met with the president of the Liberal Party, and he has now begun the process of co-ordinating a leadership convention for early in the new year. My expectation is that this will not take many months. The Liberal Party is very well organized.”

Ghiz said that he was leaving at a time when he was proud of his government's record, and that he had faith in the team he had built.

The premier said he had no plans apart from more time with his family. He said he did not have any current intention to run federally, but he did not rule it out in the future.

The 40-year-old Ghiz is currently the longest-serving premier in the country.

Ghiz became leader of the provincial Liberal Party in 2003 and was first elected as a member of the legislative assembly later that same year. He became premier in June 2007 and was re-elected in 2011. He said he had two main goals from the start: to strengthen the education system and provide better access to health care.

He said his best day as premier was the day his government introduced full-day kindergarten.