Australian PM refuses to step down before election

Embattled Australian Prime Minister John Howard on Tuesday refused to bow out of this year's election despite discontent in his party caused by falling opinion poll ratings suggesting it will lose.

Australian PM refuses to step down before election
Embattled Australian Prime Minister John Howard on Tuesday refused to bow out of this year's election despite discontent in his party caused by falling opinion poll ratings suggesting it will lose.

"I have never run from a fight before and I don't intend to do so now," the 68-year-old prime minister told a press conference in Canberra as he vowed to stand for a fifth term.

But a senior cabinet member admitted that the conservative Liberal Party had considered "all our options" in recent days before settling behind Howard for an election expected before the end of the year.

Howard is well behind centre-left Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd in opinion polls. He has trailed for months having committed Australian troops to the unpopular Iraq war and drastically altered labour laws to strip union power.

The veteran prime minister, who has led a conservative coalition government for 11 years, insisted it was "not in the party's interest" to test its leadership so close to an election.

AFP
Last Mod: 11 Eylül 2007, 18:53
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