Australian PM Abbott faces new leadership challenge

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SYDNEY, Australia: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday vowed to fend off his second leadership challenge this year after a high-profile minister threw down the gauntlet and said the government would lose the next election without change at the top. Malcolm Turnbull, a popular communications minister long considered one of the most credible alternatives to Abbott, quit the cabinet and triggered a party ballot that will be held later on Monday. “I will be a candidate and I expect to win,” Abbott said as lawmakers from his Liberal Party prepared to cast their votes, adding that the prime ministership was “not a prize or a plaything to be demanded.” “It should be something which is earned by a vote of the Australian people,” he said. Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop – until now a loyal ally – visited Abbott earlier in the day to tell him he needed to step aside, Sky News reported, citing unnamed sources.

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AFP

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