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Australia's Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd resigns over leadership squabble

In a late-night media conference at a Washington hotel, Kevin Rudd announced his resignation over the leadership "soap opera."

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Australia's Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd called a press conference at a Washington hotel in the early hours of Wednesday morning to resign, saying he felt he no longer had the support of Prime Minister Julia Gillard (Alex Wong/AFP/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, Australia – It's been a busy week for Australian Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd. 

Today, he resigned after weeks of speculation that he was mounting a leadership challenge against Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

He held an impromptu, late night press conference at a Washington, DC, hotel, which has been beamed across Australia.

The Sydney Morning Herald says that Rudd claims he no longer had the support of Gillard and had no option but to resign.

"While I am sad to leave this office, I am sadder still that is has come to this," he said. "The last time I resigned from a postilion of public office, I was resigning as prime minister.  I do so with a genuinely heavy heart, and with much personal reflection."

On Tuesday, a video of Rudd dropping the f-bomb and verbally abusing his staff went viral.

Earlier Wednesday, there had been speculation that Gillard had secured the backing of senior ministers to sack Rudd, or to hold a leadership ballot and expose his lack of support.  The Herald Sun reports that the prime minister's office had denied the rumors, but Gillard herself had refused to comment.

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Gillard came to power in June 2010, after an internal shift in support forced Rudd, who was prime minister at the time, to stand down.  In recent weeks, reports of fresh leadership tensions had circulated, along with suggestions that Rudd was planning to seize back power.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation broadcast Rudd's media conference live, showing him saying he would not be involved in a "stealth attack" on a sitting prime minister.  

"The truth is, I also feel very uncomfortable doing this from Washington, and not in Australia," he said.

"But I don't feel as if I have a choice, given the responsibilities I have here before me. Under no circumstances do I want Australia's international reputation brought into disrepute because of this ongoing saga."

Rudd then confirmed that he will fly back to Australia on Thursday.

More from GlobalPost: Australia's Julia Gillard and Labor Party lose ground in polls

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/120222/australias-foreign-minister-kevin-rudd-resigns-over-leader