Former PM Silvio Berlusconi resurrects Forza Italia

Italian former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (R) leaves after the People of Freedom (PDL) party"s national convention in Rome on 16 November 2013.
Image caption Berlusconi relaunched the party at a national convention in Rome on Saturday

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has relaunched his old party Forza Italia following a split in the centre-right movement.

It comes a day after dissidents broke away to form a new faction led by his former right-hand man Angelino Alfano.

Berlusconi said he was pained by the move, but suggested his party could still cooperate with the new faction.

Tensions in the PLD party have been high as Berlusconi faces expulsion from parliament over a court conviction.

Conciliatory approach

In a bid to bring the administration down, Berlusconi wanted his party to quit the governing coalition over a Senate vote to remove him after he was convicted of tax fraud.

Image caption Angelino Alfano (R) was Berlusconi's former second-in-command

But Mr Alfano and several other MPs have refused to go along with this approach, and announced on Friday the formation of a rival centre-right group.

Berlusconi said Mr Alfano's decision had "caused him a lot of pain", speaking at a convention aimed at rebranding his party on Saturday,

But he suggested the two parties should be viewed as allies, urging his supporters to avoid hostility towards the new grouping.

He also acknowledged that the split in his ranks means he no longer has the numbers in parliament to bring the government down.

Mr Berlusconi was convicted of tax fraud in October 2012 over deals his firm Mediaset made to purchase TV rights to US films. The sentence was upheld in August.

The Italian Senate will soon vote on whether to expel him, a move which would open up the risk of arrest over other criminal cases.