Italian Prime Minister Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has announced his resignation amid tensions mounting in the country even as Matteo Salvini pulled out on the 14-month coalition. Addressing parliament, Mr Conte launched a blistering attack on his own interior minister, Mr Salvini, accusing him of sinking the ruling coalition and endangering the economy for personal and political gain.
He accused the head of the League party of seeking to cash in on his rising popularity.
"He has shown that he is following his own interests and those of his party," Mr Conte told a packed Senate, with a stony-faced Mr Salvini sitting by his side. "His decisions pose serious risks for this country."
The prime minister, who belongs to neither of the coalition's two parties, is expected to hand in his resignation later in the day, allowing the head of state to start formal consultations with parties to see if a new coalition can be formed.
One option would be for the Five Star Movement to form a new alliance with the centre-Left Democratic Party.
League leader, Matteo Salvini, has demanded early elections, 3-1/2 years ahead of schedule, confident that his surging popularity in the opinion polls will sweep him into power and push the anti-establishment 5-Star into opposition.
Di Maio said 5-Star lawmakers would stand by Conte, who is a law professor with no political affiliation.
“Each of us knows that we are on the right side of history,’’ Di Maio said in a post on Facebook.
“The League will have to answer for its wrong decision to bring everything down, opening a government crisis in the middle of August … just to chase the polls,’’ he added.