‘I apologized but I won’t resign’ – Calderoli

The Northern League MP at the centre of a racist row said Cecile Kyenge, Italy's first black minister, has accepted his apology after he likened her to an 'orangutan'. But he will not resign.

'I apologized but I won't resign' - Calderoli
Roberto Calderoli, left, pictured with former PM Silvio Berlusconi, says he won't resign. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Roberto Calderoli admitted he had done “something stupid” and pledged to send Kyenge, Italy’s integration minister, a bunch of roses, Il Fatto Quotidiano reported.

He said he would have been prepared to resign on Tuesday if “those who elected me had asked me to.”

He addressed his apology to the Senate and said it had also been accepted by Kyenge.

Calderoli added that he would “never again attack a political opponent with offensive statements.”

His remarks, made at a rally on Sunday, have been met with a backlash in Italy, with 135,000 people signing an online petition calling for his dismissal from the anti-immigration Northern League party.

In a statement, he said the comment was meant “as a joke” and he did not mean to offend Kyenge.

Kyenge has been subjected to numerous racial attacks since becoming integration minister in April.

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