Mr Eastwood said his party respected the result of the election and would not nominate a caretaker Infrastructure Minister to “give the DUP political cover” for refusing to nominate a deputy First Minister for up to 24 weeks.
The Foyle MP said the first act of the new opposition would be to fulfil its election pledge by tabling emergency legislation to unlock more than £300m “sitting in Stormont bank accounts” that should be used to address the cost of living crisis.
He added: “I want to congratulate everyone who has won a mandate to govern following the Assembly election. The result has changed the shape of the Assembly and the SDLP will fully respect the determination of the electorate. We would encourage others to do likewise and form an Executive immediately.
“Without a mandate for government, the SDLP will not provide political cover for others to delay Executive formation or resist the nomination of a First and deputy First Minister. We will not, therefore, provide a caretaker Infrastructure Minister to cover the DUP’s blushes as children go hungry, parents sit in cold homes and sick people wait years for treatment.
“The SDLP will immediately form a constructive new opposition at Stormont. The first act of that opposition will be to fulfil our election pledge by tabling emergency legislation to unlock over £300m sitting in Stormont bank accounts to deal with the cost of living emergency.
“The cost of living crisis is crippling families across the North and we will work with all parties in the Assembly to deliver this critical legislation. People need the Assembly and they need a government. Those parties with the power to form one must get on with the job.”