Rome

Italian PM Monti hits back at 'volatile' Berlusconi

Media magnate accused outgoing premier of lacking credibility

Italian PM Monti hits back at 'volatile' Berlusconi

(see related story) Rome, January 3 - Outgoing Italian Premier Mario Monti hit back on Thursday after being accused of lacking credibility by his predecessor Silvio Berlusconi. "Berlusconi has been volatile in both his personal and political affairs recently," Monti, who is standing to retain office on a reform platform in next month's general elections, told Rai television. Berlusconi has alternated of late between furious criticism of Monti and praise for the former European commissioner. Last month Berlusconi offered to withdraw his bid for a fourth term as premier if Monti agreed to lead a broad centre-right coalition at the elections. On Wednesday, however, he accused Monti of breaking a vow not to enter the political fray that when he was appointed premier in November 2011 after Berlusconi's was forced to resign as prime minister by Italy's debt crisis. "Monti does not have credibility any more," Berlusconi said. "He was put at the head of a technocrat government with a promise - he said he would not take advantage of the promotion". Berlusconi has also accused Monti's emergency government of unelected technocrats of being too "German-centric" in pursuing austerity policies.

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