Italy's Prodi resigns over Afghanistan

Feb. 21, 2007 at 3:09 PM
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ROME, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Italy's prime minister resigned Wednesday after his center-left government Wednesday lost a key foreign policy vote.

Prime Minister Romano Prodi and Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema both lobbied to extend Italy's Afghanistan mandate, but in a Senate vote Wednesday, the coalition failed to get the necessary majority of 160 votes because of opposition from the far left inside the government coalition. It only got 158 votes.

Ahead of the vote, government officials had threatened to resign if the vote over key foreign policy goals failed. Prodi consulted with President Giorgio Napolitano after the vote, and later gave in to opposition calls to resign.

Observers say the resignation has plunged Italy into its biggest crisis since the Prodi government took over in Rome in May 2006.

Roughly 1,900 Italian soldiers are currently stationed in Afghanistan, and the mission there has been a source of constant debate in Italy.

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