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Australian PM Turnbull loses party support; new leader to elected soon

File photo of Malcolm Turnbull. Photograph:( Reuters )

AFP Canberra ACT, Australia Aug 24, 2018, 08.06 AM (IST)

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Friday he has received a petition showing he has lost the majority support of his Liberal Party, triggering a vote on electing a new leader.

Also Read: Australia set to get new PM as Turnbull decides not to fight back

"I have just been provided with a request for a meeting of the Parliamentary Liberal Party. It has 43 signatures," he tweeted. 

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"As soon as they are verified by the whips, which should not take long, the meeting will be called."

Turnbull has said he will not stand in the contest, meaning the next prime minister will be either Peter Dutton, who submitted the letter, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop or Treasurer Scott Morrison.

Turnbull survived one attempt to knife him on Tuesday, winning a party room vote 48-35, but since then ministers have been defecting and a second leadership challenge is likely at noon (0200 GMT) Friday.

Dutton needs to prove he has majority backing, or 43 signatures from within the party's parliamentary group -- a requirement for him to force a second crack at the top job ahead of national elections due by mid-2019.

Reports on Friday said at least 40 lawmakers were onboard for a leadership change.  Turnbull, who accused Dutton and his supporters of bullying and intimidation, on Thursday said he would not contest a second leadership challenge and leave parliament, although he did not put a timetable on when he would go.