Italy's Monti to lead centrist coalition in February polls
ROME (AFP) - Italy's caretaker Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Friday that he will contest February elections at the head of a centrist coalition, driving a wedge between centre-left and centre-right parties.
"I agree to assume the role of head of the coalition, and I will commit myself to guaranteeing the success of this operation," Mr Monti said after meeting for four hours with representatives of centrist groups and civic organisations.
Mr Monti, 69, announced a week ago that he would step down after 13 months at the head of an unelected team of technocrats that was appointed to steer Italy out of a financial crisis that could have had dire consequences for the entire 17-nation euro zone.
Technically, as an Italian senator for life, the former European commissioner cannot himself run for office, but is in a position to be renamed prime minister if a party or coalition he supports wins the vote on Feb 24 and Feb 25.