Is "potential" redundant?

While Deputy Prime Minister Heng Sweet Keat’s decision to step aside as Singapore’s potential next leader came as a surprise, industrial watchers said it should not rattle investor and business confidence.

Is “potential” redundant? If it isn’t, what is the reason?

Thanks.

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It’s not quite clear what ‘to step aside’ here means.

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Although it seems that the Deputy was a strong front runner to become the next PM, presumably it was not a certainty and there could be other candidates for the job. Since it’s not certain, all of the candidates would be potential next leaders. Keats, however, decided to remove his name from consideration.

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