Sydney — Prime Minister John Howard has told colleagues he intends to lead his center-right coalition to a fifth election next year in a letter released by his office Monday that ends months of speculation.
Howard told government lawmakers, in the letter faxed to their offices Monday, that he had made his decision after consulting widely with his colleagues during parliament's current break.
"The soundings that he's taken over the last few weeks tell him that there's a strong view of the party that the current leadership team, with him as the leader and Costello as the deputy leader, should remain in place through to the next election," the letter said.
"I will commit to leading the party to the next election," Howard added.
Howard, Australia's premier since 1996, wrote that he informed Treasurer Peter Costello, deputy leader of the ruling Liberal Party who has urged the prime minister to retire, of his decision Sunday.
Howard, 67, has been under increasing pressure to announce his future plans since Costello, 49, claimed early this month that the prime minister reneged years ago on a promise to hand over power to his deputy. Howard has denied ever making such a deal.