Ital­ian pres­i­dent in­ter­venes in migrant stand-off, an­ger­ing Salvini

Oman Daily Observer - - EUROPE -

ROME: Pres­i­dent Ser­gio Mattarella has made a rare in­ter­ven­tion in Ital­ian politics to end a dispute within the rul­ing coali­tion over a migrant boat, an­ger­ing right-wing In­te­rior Min­is­ter Mat­teo Salvini.

Mattarella con­tacted Prime Min­is­ter Giuseppe Conte late on Thurs­day to ex­press his con­cern about the plight of 67 mi­grants res­cued at sea and brought to a Si­cil­ian port. Salvini had re­fused to al­low them to dis­em­bark.

The ship had been brought to the port of Tra­pani with the ap­proval of Trans­port Min­is­ter Danilo Toninelli, but Salvini or­dered that no one should leave the boat un­til al­leged vi­o­lent con­duct by some of the mi­grants had been in­ves­ti­gated.

Toninelli is from the anti­estab­lish­ment 5-Star Move­ment, while Salvini heads its coali­tion part­ner, the right-wing, anti-im­mi­grant League.

Af­ter re­ceiv­ing Mattarella’s phone call, Conte, an aca­demic who is close to 5-Star but not a mem­ber of ei­ther party, or­dered the mi­grants be al­lowed off the ship. Salvini said he had learned

Re­la­tions have of­ten been tense be­tween Salvini and Mattarella, who has a largely cer­e­mo­nial role and in­ter­venes in politics only in ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances

of the pres­i­dent’s move with “re­gret and amaze­ment”.

Re­la­tions have of­ten been tense be­tween Salvini and Mattarella, who has a largely cer­e­mo­nial role and in­ter­venes in politics only in ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances.

Af­ter in­con­clu­sive elec­tions in March, Mattarella re­jected Salvini’s re­quest to be named prime min­is­ter and this week he re­fused to de­fend the League af­ter a court or­dered that its funds be se­questered over a cor­rup­tion case.

Salvini tweeted on Fri­day that he would not let the case of the migrant boat lie, us­ing cap­i­tal let­ters to say some­one “has to pay” if the mi­grants had been vi­o­lent.

The mi­grants were picked up off the Libyan coast by an Ital­ian-flagged sup­ply ves­sel on Mon­day, be­fore be­ing trans­ferred onto a coast­guard ship, the Di­ciotti.

Hours be­fore Mattarella stepped into the case, Salvini had vowed not to au­tho­rise them to dis­em­bark, say­ing: “If some­one does it in my place, he will as­sume the ju­di­cial, moral and po­lit­i­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity for it.”

The League and 5-Star, who were pre-elec­tion ri­vals, formed a coali­tion on June 1, pledg­ing to crack­down on mi­gra­tion.

— AFP

Mi­grants stand on the bridge of Italy’s Di­ciotti coast guard ves­sel car­ry­ing 67 asy­lum seekers berthed at Tra­pani port.

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