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Clash Between Italian PM Giuseppe Conte and Matteo Salvini Heats Up

Giuseppe Conte

Rome: The feud between Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Matteo Salvini, the man who may be looking to replace Conte as Italy’s head of government, heated up this week after Conte accused Salvini of “disloyalty” with an “obsession” of preventing migrants from entering Italy.

The high-profile clash between two of Italy’s most high-profile figures comes amid a political crisis that could see the Conte-led government collapse. Salvini, who is one of Conte’s deputy prime ministers, is also head of the nationalist, anti-migrant League, Italy’s largest political party. He said last week that the League’s alliance with the populist Five-Star Movement was “broken” and could not be repaired, Xinhua reported on Friday.

That paved the way for a confidence vote on the Conte government and, perhaps, snap elections that would select a new parliament that would reflect the growing support for the League. In the midst of the crisis, Salvini contradicted Conte’s work regarding the migrant rescue ship “Open Arms”, which has been anchored off the southern Italian island of Lampedusa for days with 147 would-be asylum seekers on board.

Conte said the ship should be allowed to dock at Lampedusa and that he negotiated with six European Union countries — France, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania, and Spain — to assure they were “ready to welcome the migrants” in their territory. But Salvini issued an order refusing to allow the ship to dock, sparking the outage from Conte.

“Dear Matteo,” Conte wrote in an open letter to Salvini, published on social media. “I understand your … obsessive concentration on addressing the issue of immigration by reducing the issue to a formula of ‘closed ports’. You are a political leader and you are legitimately intent on constantly increasing your support.”

Salvini struck back, defending his “closed ports” policy: “Without this firmness the European Union would have never lifted a finger, leaving Italy and the Italians alone,” he wrote, also on social media.  (IANS)

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