RUDD QUITS IN ‘SOAP OPERA’
Embattled, embittered and perhaps a bit embarrassed, Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd shocked colleagues with his surprise resignation this week while he was on an official visit to Washington.
In a hastily called news conference Wednesday, Mr. Rudd denounced “faceless men” in the Australian government who have “attacked my integrity and, therefore, my fitness to serve” as foreign minister. He called the attacks a “soap opera.”
He also criticized Miss Gillard for failing to “repudiate” the mudslinging.
“I can only reluctantly conclude that she shares those views,” he said.
He was due, however, to represent Australia in London on Thursday for talks on Somalia and in Tunisia on Friday for a meeting on Syria.
“The truth is I can only serve as foreign minister if I have the confidence of Prime Minister Gillard and her senior ministers,” he said.
He added that “under no circumstances do I want Australia’s international reputation brought into disrepute because of this ongoing saga.”
Miss Gillard, meanwhile, wasted no time in preparing to prevent him from building momentum for a leadership challenge. She scheduled a vote for Monday for Labor Party lawmakers to decide whether they want her to continue as prime minister.
Mr. Rudd arrived in Washington just after an embarrassing video went viral.