World Bulletin/News Desk
Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi failed to appear at a political rally on Friday, dashing expectations that he would use the occasion to announce he would run for his former post in next year's election.
On Thursday, Fabrizio Cicchitto, parliamentary leader of Berlusconi's PDL party, had said that the 75-year-old media billionaire would be the centre-right candidate for premier in the general election due in early 2013.
But reporters and television camera teams gathered at a Rome hotel in the hope of a clear statement from the man himself were disappointed.
"I bring you the greetings from President Berlusconi who was unable to attend because a commitment prevented him coming," PDL party secretary Angelino Alfano told the meeting of a small Catholic group allied to the PDL.
Despite mounting speculation of a possible comeback, Berlusconi has made no public declaration himself and his no-show at Friday's rally maintains the uncertainty over his political future.
An opinion poll by the IPR institute published in the left-leaning La Repubblica pointed to defeat for the centre-right next year, with or without Berlusconi at the helm.
It forecast a centre-left alliance led by the Democratic Party would take 42 percent of the vote, ahead of 30 percent for the centre-right, with the populist 5 Star Movement of comic Beppe Grillo taking 20 percent.
Berlusconi, forced from office last year as a financial crisis threatened to slip out of control and leave the Treasury unable to manage its 1.9 trillion euro debt pile, has given several hints that he plans to return to politics.
He still faces trial over allegations, which he denies, of paying for sex with an underaged prostitute.
He has taken an increasingly critical line against the austerity policies of Prime Minister Mario Monti and talked openly about Italy abandoning the euro, adding to the already high level of uncertainty surrounding next year's election.
On Friday, ratings agency Moody's underlined the importance of the vote for financial markets, cutting Italy's sovereign debt rating by two notches and saying that the uncertain political climate was adding to financial risks.
British authorities have confiscated the passport of a prominent anti-regime Syrian activist at the request of President Bashar al-Assad’s government
French President Francois Hollande has acknowledged his countrys 'culpability in abandoning Algerians who fought alongside French colonial forces in Algeria’s war for independence
The rebel leader of South Sudan, Riek Machar has vowed to wage a war against the government
New York Times strongly endorses Hillary Clinton, praising her 'intellect, experience, and courage'
The blast occurred at 10:30 pm local time (2030 GMT) inside or beside a ground floor shop on a major intersection, a police statement said Sunday.
Once the EU receives the list, it will take about 20 days to study the names of the proposed candidates and check them against available databases, one of the diplomats said.
Johnson said Thursday that Britain would invoke Article 50, the official procedure for quitting the European Union, within months of the new year.
Media reports said the Pentagon was seeking to send another 500 troops to Iraq ahead of the Mosul offensive
Iraqi FM reiterated his country's rejection of foreign interference in Yemen’s affairs
The soldier said he was caught up in a Boko Haram ambush and colleagues were killed. A bullet hit him in the leg and he hadn't seen combat since.
The vote is the brainchild of Milorad Dodik, nationalist leader of the Bosnian Serb-run entity Republika Srpska (RS).
Arcan Cetin, 20, shot and killed four women, 1 man at Washington state mall
Use of 'indiscriminate weapons' in recent offensive in Aleppo may amount to war crimes, Secretary-General says
‘Our aim is to reach a political solution before 2016 ends,” Mustafa Akinci says meeting UN chief
China-funded railway set to slash Ethiopia’s export-import costs