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Australian PM calls on party leadership ballot

(Xinhua)

10:22, February 23, 2012

Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard visits Minamisanriku town in Miyagi prefecture, after the area was devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, April 23, 2011. (Xinhua/Reuters File Photo)

CANBERRA, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Thurday said she will call a ballot for the Labor Party leadership at 10 am on Monday after Kevin Rudd's resignation as Foreign Minister.

"I have decided on 10am (AEDT) Monday morning a ballot for the Labor leadership will be conducted," Gillard told reporters in Adelaide.

"But let me be very clear about this: if against my expectation I do not receive the support of my colleagues then I will go to the backbench and I will renounce any further ambition for the Labor leadership."

She said this would be in the best interests of the government and the nation.

Gillard called on Rudd to give the same undertaking.

Former Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd accounced a sudden resignation Wedesday in Washington. Rudd's decision comes at the center of leadership tensions within the Labor Party. It has been weeks when local media reported that Rudd will launch a possible leadership challenge over Gillard, while the latter looks reluctant to act back.

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