Hong Kong's new acting chief executive Donald Tsang has set 10 July as the date to choose a permanent successor to Tung Chee-hwa.
Tsang does not enjoy Beijing's full support, analysts say
Mr Tsang announced the date after the Chinese government accepted Mr Tung's early resignation from the post.
The new chief executive would only serve out the two years left from Mr Tung's mandate, the new leader said.
Mr Tsang did not say whether he would run, but he is a favourite to win, and has secured Beijing's backing.
However, the BBC's Chris Hogg in Hong Kong says the shortened term of office suggests that the Chinese leadership does not completely trust him yet.
Mr Tung stepped down as Hong Kong's leader on Thursday.
He has been appointed vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference - a top advisory body.
The move allows him a graceful exit after a turbulent time in Hong Kong, says our correspondent.
Moments after formally taking office, Mr Tsang paid tribute to his predecessor.
He praised "the diligence, perseverance and resourcefulness of our people" and the "equally important" contribution of Mr Tung for Hong Kong's "triumphs".
He announced that the new chief executive would complete Mr Tung's five-year mandate and subsequent elections would be held in accordance with new rules - which he did not specify.
"It remains our aim that a third term chief executive in 2007 will be elected by an election committee that is more representative and has a broadened electorate base," Mr Tsang said.
Mr Tung's appointment to the advisory body was approved by a vote of 2,065 to 21 from the CPPCC delegates at the closing session of the body's annual meeting at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing. There were 20 abstentions.
Mr Tung, 67, sat alongside President Hu Jintao and other Chinese leaders for the vote.
Tung's performance in Hong Kong has been criticised
He cited poor health for resigning as chief executive on Thursday, but many observers in Hong Kong believe that he was in fact sacked by the Chinese leadership.
He had faced growing unpopularity over failed plans for an anti-subversion bill and his continued support for Beijing in limiting democratic reforms.
His reappointment in a senior role allows him to save face, even though he is stepping down as chief executive two years before his term is due to end, says our Hong Kong correspondent.