Australia's Foreign Minister resigns amid dispute

Australia's Foreign Minister resigns amid dispute

SYDNEY - The Associated Press
Australias Foreign Minister resigns amid dispute

Australia's Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd. REUTERS Photo

Australia's foreign minister resigned Wednesday amid an ongoing leadership squabble, saying he could not continue in his role without the support of Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd announced his resignation during an early morning news conference in Washington, where he is visiting on official business. The announcement comes amid relentless speculation that he planned to seize power from Gillard.

Gillard came to power in an internal coup within her Labor Party that ousted Rudd in June 2010. She became only the third prime minister since World War II to gain power in this way.

"I can only serve as foreign minister if I have the confidence of Prime Minister Gillard and her senior ministers," Rudd said. "I therefore believe the only honorable thing, and the only honorable course of action, is for me to resign." In recent days, speculation had been mounting that Rudd supporters were planning an attempt to restore him to power soon. That had become a distraction, Rudd said.

"The truth is the Australian people regard this whole affair as little better than a soap opera and they are right," he said. "And under current circumstances, I won't be part of it." It was not immediately clear what Rudd's next move would be. He said he planned to fly back to Australia on Thursday to sort out his future. But in his resignation speech, he was highly critical of the Labor Party's decision to oust him.

"I can promise you this: There is no way no way that I will ever be party to a stealth attack on a sitting prime minister elected by the people," Rudd said. "We all know that what happened then was wrong and it must never happen again."