Rome

Calderoli 'orangutan' case not over, says premier's office

Sources deny Maroni's claim row has blown over

Calderoli 'orangutan' case not over, says premier's office

Rome, July 16 - Premier Enrico Letta's office on Tuesday rebutted Northern League leader and Lombardy Governor Roberto Maroni's assertion that a row over a party bigwig likening Italy's first black minister to an orangutan is finished. On Monday Letta called on Maroni to intervene over comments Deputy Senate Speaker Roberto Calderoli, a League member, directed at Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge at the weekend. Letta said it was not in anyone's interest to draw out what he described as a "shameful" episode. Maroni said Tuesday that the case had blown over after he refused to ask Calderoli to quit. "It has not blown over at all," said the source. "The slip-up was just that of a leader who cannot get Calderoli to quit as Deputy Senate Speaker. "Unfortunately, he is not in a position that can be put to a no-confidence vote. But by acting in this way, Maroni is an accomplice to the insult to Minister Kyenge". Calderoli addressed the Senate on Tuesday and again apologised for his "offensive" remarks, saying he would send Kyenge flowers. But he did not give the resignation that Letta and Kyenge's Democratic Party (PD) had called for. He said he would have resigned if the majority of the parties in parliament had asked him to.

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