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Law professor Giuseppe Conte named Italy's new PM

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-05-24 09:05
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Newly appointed Italy Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte speaks to the media after the consultation with the Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the Quirinal Palace in Rome, Italy, May 23, 2018. [Photo/Agencies]

ROME - Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Wednesday named law professor Giuseppe Conte as Italy's new prime minister, tasking him with a mandate to form a new government.

Conte was put forward by the rightwing League and the populist Five Star Movement, the two top vote-getters in Italy's March 4 election, as their choice for prime minister earlier this week.

"The president of the Republic has conferred a mandate to form a government on Professor Giuseppe Conte," presidential secretary Ugo Zampetti said after the president and the professor met for almost two hours. "Professor Conte has accepted."

"I am aware of the need to confirm Italy's European and international placement," a visibly nervous Conte said in a four-minute speech shortly after that. "The government will have to engage straight away in ongoing negotiations on the European budget, asylum rights reform, and completion of (EU) banking union."

As a lawyer, Conte said, he has "pled the cases of many people" in his life so far.

"I will now defend the interests of all Italians, in every forum, both European and international," he said. "I propose to become the defense lawyer of the Italian people."

Conte added that he will meet with Mattarella in "the coming days" to present him with a list of cabinet ministers.

A relatively obscure academic aged in his early 50s, Conte teaches private law at Florence University and has zero experience in politics or public administration.

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