Former Australian leader Kevin Rudd has said Prime Minister Julia Gillard was not capable of winning the next election for Labor,underlining speculation of a leadership challenge.
Rudd,who just resigned as foreign minister,added that he had been been encouraged by the support he had received from Labor members and ministers.
“I do not believe that Prime Minister Gillard can lead the Australian Labor Party to success in the next election,” he said before boarding a plane from Washington back to Australia where he is expected to formally announce his future plans.
“I am very pleased and encouraged by the amount of positive support encouraging me to contest the leadership of the Labor party,” he added.
He said he would declare his position on the leadership upon his return to Australia,but in a clear pitch to caucus members,Rudd cited his record as prime minister,declaring the achievements of his government were formidable.
Rudd,who was brutally ousted as leader by Gillard in a party-room coup in 2010,sensationally quit at a press conference in the early hours of Wednesday,saying he could not continue without her support.
Gillard has insisted she will lead Labor into the 2013 election and is due to hold a news conference shortly where she is widely expected to call a leadership ballot for Monday.
Analysts believe Rudd currently does not have the votes to topple Gillard in any immediate ballot among the 103-strong Labor caucus,but his moves compound the woes of the unpopular and fragile coalition government.