Aug. 20 (UPI) -- In the midst of a political crisis and possibly Italy's second election in less than two years, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced his resignation Tuesday -- saying his nation is being driven into chaos by a deputy who's only interested in advancing his own prospects.
In an hour-long speech, Conte slammed Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini for steering Italy toward new elections this fall -- mainly because Conte has failed to keep Rome's coalition government from falling apart in recent weeks. He criticized Salvini as he sat next to him in the Italian Senate.
"Asking citizens to vote every year is irresponsible," he said.
Conte said he planned to submit his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella sometime Tuesday afternoon.
Conte was sworn in as Italy's prime minister 14 months ago after the right wing Lega Nord and anti-establishment Five Star Movement reached a coalition agreement that established a populist government. That alliance fell apart this month over disagreements on key policies.
Conte said Salvini, the Lega Nord leader, has stirred a government crisis that could result in "serious consequences." He accused Salvini, who's also Italy's interior minister, of betraying Italians by ending the party's alliance with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement.
"He is only looking after his own interests and those of his party," Conte said.
Any new elections must be held between 45 and 70 days.
Conte threatened months ago to leave office if the parties' paralyzing feud didn't stop.
Lega Nord has threatened to call a no-confidence vote and Salvini called for the snap elections when polls showed his party was gaining popularity.
Conte also said Salvini has been "obsessive" about opposing migration to Italy, citing his refusal last weekend to accept a group of immigrants off Lampedusa. Salvini later agreed to let 27 migrant children off the ship.