Outgoing Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has said he would lead a centrist alliance in an election in February. 

The news ends weeks of speculation over his political future and confirms his bid for a second term.

The announcement clears up some of the uncertainty hanging over election and puts Mr Monti in a three-way contest for power with the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), which is leading in the polls, and Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) party.

The former European Commissioner, appointed at the head of a technocrat government last year to save Italy from financial crisis after Mr Berlusconi stepped down as prime minister, said he was willing to accept "being named as leader of the coalition".

Mr Monti said the alliance would try to go beyond traditional political boundaries and unite a broad coalition of political factions and groups from civil society around a reform agenda aimed at repairing the deep problems in the Italian economy.