New Zealand's opposition ousts leader after she demoted rival

New Zealand's conservative National Party, the country's main opposition party, ousted its leader Judith Collins after she demoted a top leadership rival for alleged misconduct.

The National Party ousted Collins after she demoted Simon Bridges, himself a former party leader, for "comments made by [him] to a female caucus colleague at a function a number of years ago," Reuters reported.

A party caucus to elect a new leader is scheduled for Nov. 30. 

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"I am pleased to say that I am just the MP for Papakura again. It’s been a privilege to take over the leadership of @NZNationalParty during the worst of times and to do so for 16 months," Collins tweeted on Wednesday.

"I knew when I was confided in by a female colleague regarding her allegation of serious misconduct against a senior colleague, that I would likely lose the leadership by taking the matter so seriously. If I hadn’t, then I felt that I wouldn’t deserve the role," she added.

Collins's deputy, Shane Reti, has been appointed interim leader of the party until a new leader is elected next week, Reuters reported.

Collins became leader of the party in July 2020, shortly before New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was reelected.

When asked about the leadership reshuffle by New Zealand media, Ardern said, "We're in the middle of a global pandemic and so my focus needs to be on managing that," characterizing the new development as an internal matter for the National Party.