LABOUR bosses have confirmed the party will choose a woman to succeed long-serving MP Gavin Strang in Edinburgh East.
The Labour national executive committee ruled there should be a women-only shortlist for the party's candidate in the seat at the next general election.
Dr Strang, who had a majority of 6202 at the last election, is stepping down after representing the constituency since 1970.
The NEC's decision leaves former Lord Provost Lesley Hinds as the frontrunner if she chooses to seek selection, but it will come as a disappointment to local party chairman Mike Robb, former student leader Rami Okasha and city councillor Ian Murray, who were all ready to throw their hats into the ring.
A Labour spokesman said: "The NEC looked at the number of women MPs in Scotland, which is significantly lower than in other parts of the country, and decided it was important to take action to address that."
Branches and trade unions within the constituency will now meet to nominate possible candidates, and the constituency's executive committee will then draw up a shortlist and the final choice will be made by members of the local party.
A new candidate is expected to be in place by the end of April.
Mike Robb said: "Gavin Strang has been a brilliant MP and he is going to be a really hard act to follow.
"We need to make sure we select the best possible candidate."