DUBLIN, Ireland - The rival parties in Northern Ireland's power-sharing administration announced a deal yesterday that will permit both sides to elect a new leader and keep their unlikely coalition from falling apart.

The Protestants of the Democratic Unionist Party and the Catholics of Sinn Fein said they would jointly elect new leaders to the coalition today.

The election is necessary because the administration's leader, First Minister Ian Paisley, is stepping down and handing the top job to Finance Minister Peter Robinson.

Sinn Fein had threatened to block Robinson's election - and potentially force the collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly - because the Democratic Unionists are refusing to move ahead on other power-sharing goals.

Sinn Fein relented after intervention by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who announced last night that he would invite both sides to negotiations in London tomorrow.

"We look forward to working together after we have been nominated as first and deputy first minister," Robinson and his soon-to-be Sinn Fein deputy, Martin McGuinness, said in a joint statement.