LONDON – Vaughan Gething was elected prime minister of Wales on Wednesday, making him the first black head of a government in the United Kingdom.

Gething was elected head of the semi-autonomous government by the Welsh parliament in Cardiff, four days after winning an internal election in the ruling Labour Party. He won 27 of 51 votes in the legislature, the Senedd, where Labour is the largest party.

The son of a Welsh father and Zambian mother said Wales is “the first nation in the whole of Europe to be led by a black person.”

“It is a source of pride for a modern Wales, but an overwhelming responsibility for me, and I do not take it lightly,” he told parliament.

He said he wants to lead a country “able to celebrate our differences and take pride in all those things that unite us.”

Gething will be sworn in once his nomination receives ratification from King Charles III, a formality.

Three of the UK’s four heads of government are non-white. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is of Indian descent and Scottish Prime Minister Humza Yousaf is the daughter of Pakistanis.

The heads of government in Northern Ireland are Michelle O’Neill and Emma Little-Pengelly, so for the first time there are no white male heads of government in the UK.

Wales, with 3 million inhabitants, is one of the four parts of the United Kingdom along with England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The government in London is responsible for defense, foreign affairs and other kingdom-wide affairs, while the governments in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast control education, health and other departments.

Gething was Wales’ health minister during the COVID-19 pandemic. As finance minister in 2021, he has had to deal with the impact of steel company Tata’s plan to close the two blast furnaces at its Port Talbot plant, which eliminated 2,800 jobs.

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