Cardinal Peter Turkson, seen by many as a potential candidate to become the first African pope in almost 1,500 years, has unexpectedly resigned from the Vatican, Reuters reports.

A native of Ghana, Turkson has been a close confidant and a key adviser to Pope Francis on issues ranging from climate change and social justice. Also, Turkson led a large Vatican department known as the Dicastery for Integral Human Development. Created in 2016,  it merged four offices that dealt with issues such as peace, justice, migration, and charities.

According to sources inside the Vatican, the Pope has not yet decided if he will accept Turkson's resignation.

One source claimed that Turkson, who turns 75 in two years which is the mandatory retirement age for bishops, had become "fed up" with constant infighting at the Vatican. Another source said that Turkson would give more clarity about why he intends to resign once the pope makes his final decision.

After the resignation of Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea earlier this year, Turkson’s departure would leave the Vatican without any Africans to lead a major department.

At the pope’s request, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago led an external review of Turkson’s department. 

In the history of the  Catholic Church, several popes were born in the region of North Africa with the last being in the 5th century.

Although he may leave his position at the Vatican,—when he reaches 80 years of age, according to Church rules, Turkson remains eligible to enter a conclave of cardinals to elect the next pope after Francis retires or passes away.