Tony Abbott set to become Australia's next PM

Sydney, Sep 7 (IANS) Tony Abbott, who heads a Liberal Party-led coalition, is set to become Australia's new prime minister after incumbent Kevin Rudd conceded defeat in the country's bitterly fought federal elections Saturday.

"I declare that Australia is under new management," Xinhua quoted Abbott as saying in Sydney.

"I now look forward to forming a government that is competent, that is trustworthy, and which purposefully and steadfastly and methodically sets about delivering on our commitments to you, the Australian people," Abbott added.

The coalition has won more than 76 seats of the 150-seat House of Representatives, which is enough to form a government in their own right, according to Sky TV.

Earlier in Brisbane, Rudd told his supporters that he had called Abbott to concede defeat.

"A short time ago I telephoned Tony Abbott to concede defeat at these national elections," Xinhua quoted Rudd as telling his supporters.

While conceding defeat, Rudd also said that he would not seek to lead his party any longer. He had seized the party's leadership from Julia Gillard nine weeks back.

"I have been honoured to serve as your prime minister and as your party's leader," the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) quoted Rudd as telling his supporters in his seat of Griffith in Brisbane.

"But there comes a time when you know you've given it your all and a time for the party to further renew its leadership for the future. For me that time is now. So I will not be recontesting the leadership of the parliamentary Labour Party, he said, adding that the Australian people deserved "a fresh start with our leadership".

Rudd said he knew "Labour hearts are heavy across the nation tonight".

"And as your PM and as your parliamentary leader of the great Australian Labor Party I accept responsibility," he said.

"I gave it my all but it was not enough for us to win," he added.

"I'm proud that despite all the prophets of doom that we have preserved our federal parliamentary Labor Party as a viable fighting force for the future."

After Rudd's announcement in Brisbane, Abbott, leader of the Liberal-National coalition, claimed victory at a gathering in Sydney, Xinhua reported.

He said his new government would be sworn in "in a week or so". He also acknowledged Kevin Rudd's service to the people of the nation.

Before Rudd's announcement, the exit poll of Sky News pointed to a clear win for Abbott's Liberal-National Coalition.

The Sky News/Newspoll exit poll showed the opposition would win 97 seats, a 25-seat gain, while Labour would lose 21 seats and have only 51 seats in the lower house.

While Rudd retained his seat of Griffith, his party was swept away from power after six years in office.

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