Italian PM quits after sharp attack on coalition ally

Rome, Aug 20 (IANS) Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Tuesday announced he was resigning after making a scathing attack on his deputy and coalition partner Matteo Salvini for sparking of a new political crisis for "personal and party interests", reports said.

Salvini, the leader of the nationalist League party, had tabled a no-confidence motion against Conte, saying he could no longer work with his coalition partners Five Star.

The League and the populist Five Star Movement formed a coalition to govern just 14 months ago with Conte, an independent, as the Prime Minister.

Addressing the Senate, with Salvini and the other Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio sitting on either side, Conte said the League leader had been "looking for a pretext to return to the polls" since his party's success in European elections in May, reported the BBC.

The League had won 34 per cent of the votes in Italy, whereas Five Star got about 17 per cent.

Blaming Salvini for undermining the government and terming his actions "irresponsible" and allowing primacy of "personal and party interests," Conte said: "I take this opportunity to announce that I will present my resignation as head of government to the President of the Republic."

In his address, Salvini said that he was "not afraid of the judgement of Italians".

Five Star leader Di Maio also said that his party did not fear another election, while blaming the League for the government's collapse.

Conte was due to present his resignation letter to President Sergio Mattarella after the Senate debate.

Mattarella could call early elections but he could also decide to announce discussions with party leaders on forming a new coalition government.

--IANS

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