August 8, 2019 / 9:27 PM / 11 days ago

Italy PM Conte says Salvini must explain why he is sinking government

FILE PHOTO: Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte attend a commemoration ceremony to mark the anniversary of the assassinations of judges Giovanni Falcone, killed by the mafia in 1992, and Paolo Borsellino, murdered two months later, in Palermo, Italy May 23, 2019. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Thursday that the leader of the ruling League party, Matteo Salvini, must explain to Italians why he wants to bring down the coalition government.

Salvini, who is deputy prime minister and interior minister, said earlier that the coalition with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement had broken down and he called for new elections.

“It is not up to the interior minister to convene parliament or fix the agenda of a political crisis,” Conte said, vowing to go before parliament to ensure “the crisis (Salvini) has unleashed is the most transparent in the history of the republic”.

In his brief statement from the prime minister’s office, Conte, who is close to 5-Star, said he would no longer accept Salvini’s attacks on his ministers and accused him of relying on “slogans” to drum up support.

“He must ... justify to the voters who believed in the promise of change, the reasons that have led him to interrupt early and abruptly the work of government,” Conte said.

Reporting by Gavin Jones; Editing by Mark Bendeich

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