Australia's former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, announces he will challenge current Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA (FEBRUARY 24, 2012) (AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION) - Australia's former foreign minister, Kevin Rudd, said on Friday (February 24) he would contest a leadership vote against Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, bringing to a head the bitter leadership fight engulfing the minority government.
Rudd, who was ousted by Gillard in June 2010, said he was the best person to lead the governing Labor Party into the next election, due in late 2013.
"That's why I'm here today, because I believe that to do the best for Australia and Labor, things have to change. It's no secret that our government has a lot of work to do, if it is to regain the confidence of the Australian people. Rightly or wrongly, Julia (Gillard) has lost the trust of the Australian people, and starting on Monday I want to start restoring that trust. That's why I've decided to contest the leadership of the Australian Labor Party at the ballot in the caucus of the Australian Labor Party on Monday. I want to finish the job the Australian people elected me to do when I was elected by them to become prime minister," he told reporters in Brisbane.
Gillard has called a leadership vote for Monday (February 27) after Rudd suddenly quit as foreign minister on Wednesday (February 22), hoping the early vote would enable her to stamp her authority over the governing Labor Party and head off Rudd's hopes of building support.
The leadership crisis was prompted by poor opinion polls which show the government would be decimated at the next election.
Gillard's supporters say she has clear majority support within the Labor Party and that she would easily win a leadership showdown against Rudd. She has called on Rudd to abandon any leadership ambitions if he loses.
Polls show Rudd remains more popular with voters, and he has called for Australians to get behind his campaign to return as prime minister.
Rudd said he would remain in parliament and would not mount a second challenge if he loses on Monday.
A surprise Rudd victory on Monday could spark an early election, as there is no guarantee he will win the backing of key independents needed to control a majority in parliament.
Gillard replaced Rudd in an internal coup in June 2010 and then went on to win dead heat elections, forming a minority government with support of the Greens and independent lawmakers.
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