Grillo says no divisions within Italy's protest party

The leader of Italy's anti-establishment Five Star Movement on Friday downplayed reports of friction within the party, saying they remained opposed to forming any alliances despite the current political deadlock.

"It's the others who are becoming divided, not us," Beppe Grillo said, referring to media speculation that some of his supporters were leaning towards striking a deal with the centre-left coalition.

"I'm not expecting a consensus within the movement, it's legitimate that everyone thinks differently," the ex-comedian said during a party meeting at a countryside retreat north of Rome.

Grillo's anti-corruption, anti-austerity party unexpectedly captured a quarter of the votes in Italy's inconclusive February elections, and has found itself being wooed by Pier Luigi Bersani's centre-left coalition, which secured the most votes but failed to win a majority.

During the meeting, Grillo repeated his stance against joining a coalition to end the political impasse in the eurozone's third-largest economy, after Bersani ruled out an alliance with Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right coalition, which came a close second in the elections.

President Giorgio Napolitano last week urged the bickering parties to come to an agreement, announcing also that out-going Prime Minister Mario Monti will remain in office until a new government is formed.