ROME Silvio Berlusconi will not stand as candidate for prime minister in next month's Italian election under the terms of a coalition deal with the Northern League, the head of the pro-devolution party said on Monday.
The pact is vital for Berlusconi's plans to undermine the center-left government expected to emerge from the February 24-25 election but the League's rank and file oppose the scandal-plagued media magnate as a candidate for prime minister.
Northern League leader Roberto Maroni told a news conference the coalition deal "says explicitly that the candidate for prime minister will not be Silvio Berlusconi. Silvio Berlusconi accepted the request to not stand as prime minister."
(Reporting by Catherine Hornby; Editing by Janet Lawrence)