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Italy parliament dissolved; Monti to divulge plans

Italian Premier Mario Monti delivers his speech at the Foreign Ministry on the occasion of the Italian Ambassadors conference in Rome, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012. Monti's speech in Rome was his last official act as premier. He has pledged to step down as soon as Parliament gives final passage to the budget law, which happened just as diplomats were giving Monti a standing ovation. Italian news reports say he is expected to hand in his resignation Friday evening after his last Cabinet meeting. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

ROME (AP) -- Italy's president has dissolved parliament following Premier Mario Monti's resignation, formally setting the stage for general elections in February in which Monti's participation remains unclear.

President Giorgio Napolitano signed the decree Saturday after consulting with political leaders.

Monti, appointed 13 months ago to steer Italy from a Greek-style debt crisis, stepped down Friday after ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi's party withdrew its support for his technical government.

He has scheduled a news conference Sunday during which he is expected to announce whether he will run for office.

Small centrist parties have been courting Monti, but Italian newspapers say he is inclined to refuse. Polls indicate the center-left Democratic Party will win the vote. A Monti-led ticket could deprive the Democrats of votes, but wouldn't be expected to garner anything near a majority.