August 23, 2018 / 3:33 AM / 3 months ago

Australia PM Turnbull clings to power, offers fresh leadership vote

CANBERRA, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stubbornly clung to power on Thursday, as senior ministers deserted him, saying he would hold a second leadership vote on Friday if he received a letter signed by the majority of the ruling Liberal party.

Turnbull narrowly won a leadership vote on Tuesday against former home affairs minister Peter Dutton. Dutton and senior ministers on Thursday called for a second ballot.

Turnbull said if he received the letter requesting a fresh vote, he would call a party meeting for midday on Friday (0200 GMT). If a leadership spill motion was then passed, he would not stand in the vote.

“If the motion is carried, I will treat that as a vote of no confidence and I will not stand as a candidate in the ballot,” Turnbull told reporters in Canberra.

Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Michael Perry

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