Rome

Letta's party to back deputy premier in confidence vote

Risk of govt collapsing if PD failed to back Alfano

Letta's party to back deputy premier in confidence vote

Rome, July 18 - Premier Enrico Letta's Democratic Party (PD) said Thursday that it would back Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano in Friday's no-confidence vote in parliament over the deportation of the wife and daughter of a Kazakh dissent. The government was in danger of collapsing if the centre-left PD had failed to back Alfano, who is also the secretary of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party, in a Senate vote. Letta backed Alfano, saying the interior minister knew nothing of the expulsion until after it had taken place. But a group within the PD wanted the party to join opposition groups in voting against the minister, despite the likelihood that this would have led to the PdL pulling its support from Letta's left-right executive. ''In the PD group, there was a serious discussion...the group was virtually unanimous (in supporting Alfano),'' said PD Secretary Guglielmo Epifani. Alma Shalabayeva, wife of oligarch dissident Mukhtar Ablyazov Ablyazov, and their six-year-old daughter were apprehended in a nighttime raid by Italian police on May 31. They were rushed onto a private jet with Kazakh diplomats and flown back to a country whose human rights record has been questioned by several organisations. Alfano's chief of staff at the interior ministry resigned over the scandal earlier this week. The government has revoked the deportation order and Alfano has ordered a revamp of the departments involved in the expulsion.

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