Finland's PM Rinne in crisis talks with Centre allies over his future

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HELSINKI, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Finland's Social Democrat Prime Minister Antti Rinne held crisis talks on Tuesday morning with the Centre Party, one of five parties in the ruling coalition, aiming to head off a threat that could force him to step down.

Rinne's government has been widely criticised over its handling of a two-week strike at Finland's state postal service, Posti, and the Centre Party has suggested it no longer has confidence in him to lead the country.

Finnish tabloid Iltalehti, citing unnamed sources, said Rinne was prepared to hand in his resignation to the president before a debate in parliament scheduled to begin at 1200 GMT.

Rinne said late on Monday he wanted the Centre Party to state clearly whether it continued to support him or not.

On Monday, Centre Party chairwoman Katri Kulmuni said her party wanted to continue with the coalition, but questioned Rinne's role in the Posti strike, which also spread to national carrier Finnair.

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The Centre Party is unlikely to push for a new election as it and its coalition allies are trailing in the polls and could lose ground to the nationalist Finns Party.

The Finns came second in last May's election, just behind Rinne's Social Democrats.

The postal strike ended last week. (Reporting by Anne Kauranen and Tarmo Virki; Writing by Simon Johnson; Editing by Niklas Pollard and Catherine Evans)

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