11/15/2004 AT 2:00 PM ET
Secretary of State Colin Powell and three other members of President Bush’s 15-person Cabinet resigned on Monday, the White House has confirmed.
The Associated Press reports that current national security adviser Condoleezza Rice is most likely to succeed Powell in the top spot.
Besides Powell, the other departures are Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and Education Secretary Rod Paige. The three follow the post-Nov. 2 election resignations of Attorney General John Ashcroft and Commerce Secretary Donald Evans.
“I believe that now that the election is over, the time has come for me to step down,” Powell, 67, said in his letter to the president. “I am pleased to have been part of a team that launched the global war against terror, liberated the Afghan and Iraqi people,” he added.
At a State Department briefing midday Monday, Powell told reporters he had always intended to serve just one term and said he’ll remain until his successor is confirmed by the Senate. “We have a full end-of-year agenda ahead of us,” he said.
Powell’s tenure as secretary of state has not been without its controversy. He reportedly butted heads on several key issues with Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, yet was well-respected among his counterparts around the globe, despite a strain brought about by America’s war in Iraq.