Sat, Feb 24, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Prodi wins coalition support, expected to be renamed PM

AFP , ROME

Former Italian prime minister Romano Prodi, who resigned earlier this week, has won the backing from parties in his ruling coalition to continue in office, his spokesman said yesterday.

Spokesman Silvio Sircana said the parties had agreed in late-night crisis talks on a "non-negotiable" 12-point political plan aimed at defusing the crisis created when Prodi stepped down after just nine months in office.

Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said that by agreeing to the plan the coalition partners had given Prodi "a strong mandate to continue the government's work."

Prodi was scheduled to meet later yesterday with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, who has been widely expected to rename Prodi as prime minister.

Prodi, whose fragile center-left coalition narrowly won elections last April, tendered his resignation after losing a vote centering on Italy's military engagement in Afghanistan.

Two communist senators in the coalition who are staunchly opposed to the deployment, as well as the planned enlargement of a US military base in Vicenza, northern Italy, tipped the balance with their crucial "no" votes.

Prodi, the head of Italy's 61st government since World War II, was also prime minister for two years and five months from 1996.

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