21:03 GMT +311 December 2018
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    Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been asked to step down by senior ministers.

    Tony Abbott Asked to Step Down by Top Ministers

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    Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been asked to step down by senior ministers.

    Australia's Prime Minister has been asked to step down by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull. 

    The latter announced his resignation, saying he was declaring a challenge to Abbott for the Liberal party leadership, according to ABC news.

    "A little while ago I met with the prime minister and advised him that I would be challenging him for the leadership of the Liberal party," Turnbull told reporters. "This is not a decision that anyone could take lightly."

    Earlier in the day, Abbott dismissed speculation about his position as leader: 

    "I just am not going to get caught up in Canberra gossip, I'm not going to play Canberra games,"Abbott said. "I'm just not going to chase all of these rabbits down all of the burrows that you are inviting me to go down, I'm just not going to play the Canberra games." 

    "There will be a party room ballot for both the leadership and deputy leadership positions later this evening," Abbott said as quoted by The Sydney Morning Herald.

    He said he was "dismayed by the destabilization" within party ranks "taking place now for many, many months."

    "I will be a candidate and I expect to win," Abbott added in a press briefing.

    In February, Abbott survived a party confidence vote amid public discontent with his economic and social policies in a 61-39 secret ballot.

    Abbott's rating has fallen sharply since the end of 2014 over unsuccessful economic policies, with the country's debt-to-GDP ratio surging to record highs not seen since 1996. Liberal Party members have long accused Abbott of his unwillingness to listen to alternative points of view.

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    press conference, resignation, Tony Abbott, Australia
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