Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Separatist Declares N. Italy Independent

September 16, 1996| From Associated Press

VENICE, Italy — As thousands of followers cheered, secessionist leader Umberto Bossi declared northern Italy an independent nation Sunday, in his sharpest challenge yet to the country's political establishment.

"We peoples of Padania solemnly proclaim: Padania is an independent and sovereign federal republic," said Bossi, using the name he would give to an independent north.

The declaration was only a symbolic gesture, marking a dramatic finale to three days of rallies for secession and against the Rome-based government, which Bossi accuses of oppressing and exploiting Italy's comparatively wealthy north.

Bossi leads the Northern League party, which emerged in the early 1990s as a powerful force in the north's wealthy, industrialized regions, which include the cities of Venice, Treviso, Milan, Bergamo and Brescia.

Polls show only a small minority of northern Italians favor secession. By police estimate, 10,000 supporters turned out to hear Bossi's declaration of independence, the biggest crowd in the three days of protests.

Earlier Sunday, Prime Minister Romano Prodi, speaking elsewhere in the north, declared that "unity and autonomy must travel together in our country."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|