Former Australian PM Kevin Rudd retires from politics

Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd (above) announced on Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013, he was quitting politics, two months after being ousted from office by Mr Tony Abbott. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd (above) announced on Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013, he was quitting politics, two months after being ousted from office by Mr Tony Abbott. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) - Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd announced on Wednesday he was quitting politics, two months after being ousted from office by Mr Tony Abbott.

The 55-year-old Labor stalwart, who led Australia twice and was foreign minister in Ms Julia Gillard's government, said he would leave Parliament at the end of the week.

"This has been the product of much soul-searching for us as a family over the last few months," he told Parliament in an emotional evening speech. "The decision that I have made has not been taken lightly.

"But for me, my family is everything, always has been, always will be, which is why I will not be continuing as a member of this Parliament beyond this week."

The House gave him a standing ovation, and Mr Abbott saluted him.

"Whether we have been his friends or his foes, or at times both, this is a significant moment in the life of this Parliament, to lose someone who has been one of the big figures in this Parliament and one of the big figures in the public life of this country," Mr Abbott was quoted by The Sydney Morning Herald as saying.

Since being soundly defeated by Mr Abbott in the Sept 7 elections, senior figures within Labor have urged him to quit, saying he would be a destabilising influence after three years of bitter infighting within the party.

Mr Rudd was elected prime minister in the 2007 General Election, defeating Mr John Howard, but within his first term he was dumped by colleagues fed up with his style of management and demoted to foreign minister.

His sudden downfall mystified the Australian public who had elected him, and this, coupled with the unpopularity of his predecessor Julia Gillard, prompted Labor to return to Mr Rudd's leadership in June to try and salvage the party vote in the polls this year.