Italy minister resigns, adding to headaches for government

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 26, 2014 4:33 PM

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Agriculture Minister Nunzia De Girolamo resigned on Sunday, complicating the situation for Prime Minister Enrico Letta's fragile coalition, following heavy criticism after she was caught on tape discussing public contracts.

De Girolamo, a member of the small New Centre Right (NCD) party which supports Letta's left-right coalition, denied any wrongdoing in the affair and said in a statement that she had quit the government to defend her dignity.

"I cannot remain in a government which has not defended my honor," she said.

De Girolamo faced pressure to resign after the emergence of a recording made in 2012, before she became a minister, in which she was heard apparently discussing the award of a contract to manage a hospital cafe in her home region of Benevento in southern Italy.

She always denied wrongdoing, saying she had been framed, but she received notably little support from coalition partners or Letta himself when she defended herself in parliament earlier this month.

(Reporting by James Mackenzie; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)