Rome, Jan 23 : Italy's Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio on Wednesday announced he would step down as leader of the troubled anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, saying he had "completed his task".
"I have completed my task, today is the end of an era and the Movement must re-invent itself," Di Maio told a gathering of party activists here, adding that he would "keep taking an interest in 5-Star".
Di Maio took a swipe at mounting internal dissent within in the party, whose support has halved since Italy's 2018 election when it won 33 per cent of the vote and became the biggest parliamentary party. Over 20 lawmakers have left or been kicked out since 5-Star went into coalition with the centre-left in September last year.
"We have been harmed by everyone turning on everyone else... enough backstabbing," said Di Maio, who was voted the party's first leader in September 2017.
Di Maio, 33, said he would stay on as Foreign Minster "and continue to work for the good of Italians." Vito Crimi, a 5-Star Senator, will become acting party leader as a battle that could further weaken the fractious ruling coalition is likely to get underway.
Di Maio's resignation comes as party leader comes as 5-Star is set for a poor performance this weekend in polls in the northern Emilia Romagna region, a stronghold of the Italian left.