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Italy's Prodi readies to take power

Written by: Staff
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ROME, May 17 (Reuters) Italy's incoming prime minister Romano Prodi will formally take power today after protracted coalition bickering over cabinet posts and more than a month after his narrow general election victory.

The 66-year-old former European Commission chief, who accepted the mandate from President Giorgio Napolitano yesterday, is due to present his list of ministers and hold the first cabinet meeting of his centre-left government.

''The list of ministers is closed and it is done well,'' Prodi told reporters in the early hours today after late-night negotiations with his allies.

Prodi's patchwork coalition -- spanning communists to Roman Catholic centrists -- has been fighting over cabinet posts ever since its victory over Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right bloc five weeks ago.

The bickering has underscored the problems Prodi is likely to face as he prepares to govern with a razor-thin majority in parliament after the closest election in modern Italian history.

A source in Prodi's coalition confirmed most of the posts had been decided with former European Central Bank board member Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa named economy minister and former Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema given the foreign ministry.

D'Alema would also share the role of deputy prime minister with Daisy Party leader Francesco Rutelli. Interior Minister would be Giuliano Amato, a former prime minister.

However, haggling looked set to continue about some minor briefs.

Vice ministries should also be decided before the cabinet is sworn in at 1200 GMT.

The first cabinet meeting is due to begin at 1400 GMT.

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