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Italy's Salvini hopes France will get rid of 'terrible' Macron

Salvini's trenchant criticism of President Macron came after populist coalition partner Luigi di Maio had Monday blasted France for "continuing to colonise" and "impoverish" Africa
Salvini's trenchant criticism of President Macron came after populist coalition partner Luigi di Maio had Monday blasted France for "continuing to colonise" and "impoverish" Africa AFP/File
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Rome (AFP)

Italy's far-right Interior Minister worsened already strained relations between Rome and Paris on Tuesday, saying he hoped the French could soon free themselves of a "terrible president", centrist Emmanuel Macron.

"I hope that the French will be able to free themselves from a terrible president," Matteo Salvini said in a video on Facebook in the latest taunt of the French leader by the populist government across the Alps.

"The opportunity will come on May 26 (the European elections) when finally the French people will be able to take back control of its future, destiny, (and) pride, which are poorly represented by a character like Macron", he said.

Salvini, who is also deputy prime minister, said he felt "close, with all my heart... to the French people, the millions of men and women who live in France under a terrible government and terrible president".

The fresh attack on Macron, who signed a new friendship treaty with Germany on Tuesday, follows a series of incendiary remarks by Italy's other deputy prime minister, Luigi Di Maio.

Di Maio, head of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), which rules in coalition with Salvini's far-right League, accused Paris on Monday of continuing to colonise Africa and causing people to migrate from the continent.

France summoned Italy's ambassador in protest over Di Maio's comments that "the EU should sanction France and all countries like France that impoverish Africa and make these people leave".

Relations between the two capitals, usually close EU allies, have deteriorated since the M5S-League coalition became the European Union's first populist-only government in June last year.

Di Maio and Salvini recently backed "yellow vest" protesters who have been demonstrating against Macron's government since November.

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