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Rome

Renzi issues another ultimatum to Bonafede

'Another 2 mts and we'll see you in Senate' for confidence vote

Renzi issues another ultimatum to Bonafede

Rome, February 13 - Italia Viva's (IV) two female ministers Teresa Bellanova and Elena Bonetti are set to skip Thursday night's cabinet meeting in a sign of Matteo Renzi's party's continued opposition to the so-called "lodo Conte bis" compromise solution to a wrangle about a statute of limitations reform, and as Renzi issued his latest ultimatum to Justice Minister Alfonso Bonafede, moves which prompted a sharp response from Premier Giuseppe Conte. Bellanova is the farm minister and Bonetti the minister for equal opportunities and the family. Earlier this week ex-premier and former centre-left Democratic Party (PD) leader Matteo Renzi's centrist IV party threatened to up the stakes in a row within the government about the reform of the statute of limitations by presenting a motion of no confidence in Bonafede. Unlike the other three parties supporting the government, IV is not supporting the "lodo Conte bis", a compromise on the issue proposed by Premier Giuseppe Conte after it staunchly opposed a reform drafted by Bonafede putting the statute of limitations on ice after a first-instance court ruling. The aim is to stop offenders getting off thanks to their lawyers' ability to draw out proceedings until the statute of limitations kicks in. Renzi argues there is a risk of people getting embroiled in never-ending trials and the slow pace of Italy's justice system getting worse. The reform has also come under fire from judges and criminal lawyers, as well as opposition parties. Conte's compromise would see the statute of limitations put on ice when a first-instance conviction is upheld at the appeals level. In Italy's three-tier justice system, convictions are not considered definitive until the appeals process has been exhausted. There has been speculation the other parties could force Renzi to put up or shut up by putting the Conte compromise to a confidence vote. But the sources said that if that happened, IV might respond by tabling a no-confidence motion in Bonafede, a member of the 5-Star Movement (M5S). "If a party is threatening to present a no-confidence motion in a minister, it is threatening no-confidence in the whole government," said Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, a bigwig in the centre-left PD. IV MP Lucia Annibali, an acid-attack survivor, on Wednesday presented a motion to postpone the statute of limitations reform by a year to stop the government brawling. After she did so she was submerged by a wave of social media hate including wishes that she should be disfigured again, and posts praising her ex who threw the acid in her face. "I will not be intimidated," she said. IV voted with the opposition on the motion, as it has done in previous votes on the statute of limitations reform. The motion was defeated. The cabinet is also set to assess a thoroughgoing reform of criminal justice in Italy at Thursday night's meeting. Renzi on Thursday gave Bonafede two months to change tack or face a possible Senate no confidence vote. IV once more voted with the opposition for an amendment filed by three-time ex-premier and media magnate Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right Forza Italia (FI) party on the issue on Thursday. Again, the amendment was defeated. Premier Giuseppe Conte said Thursday that he would not take it lightly if the members of government from the Italia Viva (IV) party snubbed the next cabinet meeting in relation to a row over changes to the statute of limitations. "Not sitting at a table that you have an institutional role at would not be something to overlook," Conte said. "I would consider it unjustifiable". Conte said he did not accept "blackmail" and warned the IV that they should not continue to vote with the opposition. "I listen to everyone, but a more constructive spirit is needed," he said. Conte called on IV to clarify its position amid the row with other groups within the ruling coalition over changes to the statute of limitations. "I think IV should give clarification - not to me but to the Italian people," Conte said, describing the party's attitude as "surreal, paradoxical". "You'd expect aggressive and somewhat rude opposition (like this) from a party of the opposition".

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