UK & World News
Australia: Julia Gillard Challenge Called Off
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has retained the leadership of the Labor party just hours after she was urged to hold a ballot.
Ms Gillard ensured she will lead the party into elections in September after her main rival Kevin Rudd admitted he did not have enough support to defeat her.
The prime minister called the vote after a senior MP said the issue was "killing" the party and needed to be resolved.
The vote was scheduled for 16:30 (05:30 GMT), but minutes before it was due to take place Mr Rudd pulled out, meaning Ms Gillard was elected unopposed, with no actual vote called.
She said: "Today the leadership of our political party, the Labor Party, has been settled and settled in the most conclusive fashion possible.
"The whole business is completely at an end. It has ended now."
Mr Rudd said he was honouring a pledge not to challenge for the top job made after a previous failed bid in 2012.
He said: "I believe in honouring my word... others take such commitments lightly, I do not.
"I have also said that the only circumstances under which I would consider a return to leadership would be if there was an overwhelming majority of the parliamentary party requesting such a return, drafting me to return and the position was vacant.
"I am here to inform you that those circumstances do not exist."
Polls suggest Mr Rudd has more public support than Ms Gillard, who is on course to lose the election to Liberal Party candidate Tony Abbott.
The latest crisis is the third time the prime minister has defeated Mr Rudd for the leadership, but she now faces a tough job to unify a deeply-divided party and turn around public support over the next six months.
"I think they're terminal. There is no way out of this," political analyst Nick Economou told Reuters.
Ms Gillard's leadership has been threatened for most of the past two years as her minority government lumbered from one crisis to another, despite an economy that avoided recession after the 2008 global crisis and has seen 21 years of continuous growth.
She first replaced Mr Rudd in a party coup in June 2010 but the move to oust an elected prime minister angered many voters, who have found it difficult to forgive her for the way she became leader.
Ms Gillard defeated Mr Rudd in a second leadership vote in February 2012, prompting her rival to promise that he would only take on the leadership again with the overwhelming support of his party.
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what do you think?
Why cant we have politians like the aussies and the kiwi's? Ones with back bone, who put the countries needs first and not allow all and sundrie in or harbour wanted terrorists. I bet qatada would of been thrown in the cargo hold of the first quantas or air new zeland jet to jordan as soon as they asked for him. And it wouldnt of taken years to get rid of hook hand hamza!