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Rome Mayor Marino pulls U-turn on withdraw

Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino has said he will not resign, which is expected to cause further political chaos. His decision comes ahead of the Catholic Holy Year, in which millions of people are expected in the city.

Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino, troubled by an expense scandal, has said on Thursday he decided to retract his decision to resign.

Marino had tendered his resignation on October 8

under pressure from Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

He quit over an expense scandal in which he was accused of spending public funds at restaurants for private family dinners. He later proclaimed his innocence and desire to go on with his duties, despite having lost the support of the ruling Democratic Party (PD) and from Renzi.

Deputy Mayor Marco Causi and Alderman Alfonso Sabella confirmed their own resignations after Marino said he no longer wanted to quit, which shows signs that the mayor is facing an uphill battle.

Marino's uphill battle also opens a potentially damaging problem for the prime minister, who has publically distanced himself from Marino, saying he had “lost the confidence of the Romans.”

Though Marino appears to have lost the majority in city hall and the favor of the prime minister, he said he would defend his record in the 48 seat chamber.

He told reporters he wanted an “open, frank and transparent discussion” in the “proper place of democracy.”

Marino, a former liver transplant surgeon, never formally quit his post and wrote in his original resignation letter that he could return to his position if the political situation had shifted, which doesn't appear to have happened.

Supporters of the mayor said he inherited a horrendous situation from his right-wing predecessor, who is under investigation for corruption. Several rallies have been held since Marino first said he would resign.

Ahead of the Catholic Holy Year

Elected in 2013, Marino has largely been blamed for Rome's garbage and traffic problems, with many Romans saying the city services have gotten worse under Marino's rule. Many seem concerned that such problems will only get worse during Pope Francis' Jubilee of Mercy, also known as the Catholic Holy Year, which starts December 8 and runs until November 20, 2016.

After Marino resigned, Renzi said he would set up a “dream team” of administrators to guide Rome through the early weeks of the Holy Year until new mayoral elections could be held, which could take place next spring or summer.

Major trial to start

On November 5, a major trial is to begin in Rome. The trial is expected to bring to court dozens of politicians and businesspeople who were arrested last year for allegedly tampering with public contracts in areas from Roma camps.

Marino is not implicated in the upcoming case. He is expected to appear at the trial in order to represent Rome as an injured party.

smm/bw (Reuters, dpa)

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