Italy feels ‘pain’ of Mandela death: PM

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta on Friday expressed the "pain that we all feel in our hearts" at the death of 95-year-old Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president and anti-apartheid leader.

Italy feels 'pain' of Mandela death: PM
Nelson Mandela's death was announced on Thursday night. Photo: Debbie Yazbek/Mandela Foundation/AFP

“The passing of Nelson Mandela has aroused deep emotion in the Italian people,” Letta said in an open letter to Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s current president.

“To you, Mr President, and to our friend the South African nation, I extend the expression of my deepest participation in a pain that we all feel in our hearts and the assurance that Italy will not forget the lesson that Nelson Mandela has taught us,” he said.

Letta said Mandela, whose death was announced by Zuma on Thursday night, was “an example of generous commitment to rights and regional integration”.

“It is these values that the Italian government aspires to and intends to pursue with strength and determination, so that our country and our Europe can draw from the example of the long battle and conduct of Madiba,” said Letta, using Mandela’s clan name.

At the South African embassy in Rome, staff on Friday morning were lowering the country’s flag to half mast. Embassy staff told The Local that they had not yet decided on remembrance services or other events to mark Mandela’s death.

Leader of the anti-apartheid movement, Mandela was released in 1990 after 27 years in prison. He went on to become South Africa’s first black president in 1994, the year after he was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with the then President FW De Klerk.

Mandela visited Italy during his presidency in 1998, meeting with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, and other politicians.

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Italy’s Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report

Ex-PM Matteo Renzi would like to see former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi become prime minister of Italy, a party source told Reuters on Sunday.

Italy's Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report
Matteo Renzi. Image: Andreas Solaro/ POOL / AFP

“I would say that is one of our proposals,” confirmed the source, who declined to be named.

The Italian government collapsed last week when PM Giuseppe Conte resigned. The former coalition allies are currently trying to come to an agreement and sort out their differences.

The centre-left government had been in turmoil ever since former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party earlier this month, a move that forced Conte to step down this week.

During the past year, Renzi frequently criticised Conte’s management of the pandemic and economic crisis.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper also reported on Sunday that President Sergio Mattarella was considering Draghi for the prime ministerial role. However, Mattarella’s office promptly denied this, saying there had been no contact between them.

So far, there has been no comment from Draghi, who hasn't been seen much in the public eye since 2019.

Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, gave ruling parties more time on Friday to form a new government, after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. 

Coalition parties Italia Viva, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement must come to an agreement to allow the government to heal. 

Renzi, a former prime minister himself, has pubilcly stated that he does not want to talk about who should lead the next government at this stage, reasoning that the parties need to agree on a way forward first.

“Any effort today to fuel a discussion about Draghi is offensive to Draghi and above all to the president of the republic,” Renzi said in an interview published on Sunday with Corriere della Sera.

A senior Italia Viva lawmaker also told Reuters that “If the president gives a mandate to Draghi, we would certainly support this”. 

Renzi, whose party is not even registering three percent support in opinion polls, quit the coalition over Conte’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his plans for spending more than 200 billion euros from a European Union fund to help Italy’s damaged economy.

READ ALSO: Why do Italy's governments collapse so often?