Australian PM faces leadership challenge

CANBERRA - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has vowed to fight for the leadership of the ruling Liberal Party, after a surprise challenge from former minister and one-time party leader Malcolm Turnbull.

Members of the Liberal government will meet later Monday to decide the posts of prime minister and deputy prime minister, in a vote Abbott said he expected to win.

"The prime ministership of this country is not a prize or a plaything to be demanded. It should be something which is earned by a vote of the Australian people," Abbott said.

Hours earlier, Abbott rejected rumors of a potential leadership spill as "gossip" and "games," only to be confronted by Turnbull who said the country needed change.

"A little while ago I met with the Prime Minister and advised him that I would be challenging for the leadership," Turnbull told reporters outside Parliament House in Canberra.

"We have to make a change for our party's sake, for our country's sake," Turnbull said, after resigning his ministerial post.

"We need a different style of leadership. We need a style of leadership that respects the people's intelligence, that explains these complex issues," Turnbull said.

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