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Australian leader wins party challenge

SYDNEY — Prime Minister Julia Gillard survived an attempt Thursday by a senior lawmaker within her own party to oust her in a hectic day of intra-party intrigue.

Many party members thought Gillard’s predecessor, Kevin Rudd, whom she deposed in a 2010 party coup, would run against her and called for a leadership ballot against her. In the end, however, Rudd decided not to run.

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Simon Crean, a former leader of the governing Labor Party, had challenged Gillard, saying the party could only hope to prevail in September elections by returning Rudd to office. But Rudd cited an earlier promise not to run unless he had overwhelming support within the party and the position was vacant. The vote was held as scheduled, and Gillard was reelected unopposed.

Also Thursday, Gillard issued for the first time a public apology for a decades-long policy of forced adoptions that ended only in the 1970s. Tens of thousands of babies are believed to have been taken by the state — many of them from unmarried, often teenage mothers — and given to childless married couples.

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