Mr Foster will instead rival Menzies Campbell as the candidate most dedicated to continuing Paddy Ashdown's strategy of closer co-operation with Labour. The 52-year-old MP for Bath has an extensive campaign team in place and is determined to be the main challenger to the front-runner, Charles Kennedy.
Mr Foster's opponents had suggested he may follow the lead of Nick Harvey, another contender in favour of Lib-Lab links, to stand aside and back Mr Campbell. Mr Harvey said last week that the phoney war to succeed Mr Ashdown had become "ridiculous" because there were so many potential candidates for the top post.
But Mr Foster believes he has an excellent chance of gathering enough support to prevent a Kennedy victory.
His supporters claim that, as a Bath MP, he has a better chance of winning over the party's 25,000 members in the South-west.Reuse content