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Berlusconi: I'll back Italian govt for now

Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi arrives in his private residence, in Rome, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. In a pre-recorded video appearance carried by major Italian TV networks, Wednesday, Sept. 18, Berlusconi appealed emotionally to Italians to help him invigorate his center-right political movement Forza Italia that propelled him into the premierís office two decades ago. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

ROME (AP) -- Silvio Berlusconi is pledging to keep his center-right forces in Italian Premier Enrico Letta's governing coalition while fighting a tax fraud conviction that threatens to keep him out of public office.

The ex-premier is angry that senators from Letta's center-left party have refused to back a recommendation by his lawmakers that Berlusconi keep his Senate seat.

A 2012 law bans anyone sentenced to more than two years in prison from holding or running for public office for six years. This summer Italy's top criminal court upheld the media mogul's conviction and four-year sentence for tax fraud. The full Senate eventually will decide if he keeps his seat.

Berlusconi told reporters Thursday that a crisis in Letta's tense coalition could destabilize the recession-mired country and pledged his political support for now.