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Australia's Kevin Rudd in party leadership vow

image captionMr Rudd has been a thorn in Ms Gillard's side since she ousted him in 2010

Kevin Rudd has ruled out any return to the Australian Labor Party leadership, as ructions continue after Thursday's abortive ballot.

In a statement, Mr Rudd said there were "no circumstances" under which he would seek the party's top job.

His comments came a day after he chose not to contest a vote aimed at ending debate over who should lead the party into September's election.

Since then a number of his supporters have been sacked or stepped down.

Simon Crean, a senior minister whose actions forced Prime Minister Julia Gillard to call the ballot, has been sacked.

Chris Bowen, front-bencher and former immigration minister, and Martin Ferguson, resources, energy and tourism minister, resigned from the cabinet.

Richard Marles, Joel Fitzgibbon, Ed Husic and Janelle Saffin also stepped down from their party roles.

They keep their seats, however, leaving Labor's paper-thin majority intact.

'100% clear'

Thursday's dramatic events followed weeks of speculation that Mr Rudd, the former prime minister ousted by Ms Gillard - then his deputy - in 2010, had moved closer to securing the numbers needed to challenge her.

Public support for Ms Gillard is low and she looks on course to lose the coming election to the Liberal Party's Tony Abbot. Mr Rudd commands considerably stronger public support, leaving some Labor MPs backing him for the top job.

Minutes before the leadership ballot was due to take place, however, Mr Rudd said he had no plans to stand, saying he did not have the numbers. Ms Gillard was therefore uncontested in the ballot.

On Friday, in the statement on his website, Mr Rudd said his decision to contest the next election as a local MP had not changed.

"Furthermore, Mr Rudd wishes to make 100% clear to all members of the parliamentary Labor Party, including his own supporters, that there are no circumstances under which he will return to the Labor Party leadership in the future," the brief statement read.

Ms Gillard said that Thursday's events had settled the leadership issue conclusively.

"I think political watchers will know that for some period of time there's been an undercurrent in our party and it was dealt with yesterday and brought to an end."

But correspondents said the abortive ballot had only served to further damage the party, highlighting bitter divisions.

The general election is due to take place on 14 September. But the opposition is threatening to move a no-confidence motion in the government to force an early poll.

We've still got a civil war inside the government," Mr Abbott said, calling on independents to support the motion when parliament resumes on 14 May.

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