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Romano Prodi's government faces further test

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Romano Prodi's government faces further test


The Italian Prime Minister is facing a vote in the Senate today on whether to keep Italian peacekeepers in Afghanistan. This at a time when Rome angered its allies by swapping five Taliban prisoners for a kidnapped reporter. “I hope there’ll be a sense of responsibility,” said the secretary of the Democrats of the Left Party, Piero Fassino. “Nothing’s changed about Italy’s commitment in Afghanistan. I don’t see why the centre-right should vote against it.”

Prodi briefly resigned in February after losing a Senate vote on foreign policy, and now relies on opposition votes or those of lifelong senators. He is expected to win today’s ballot, but it once again highlights his fragile position. “If the text doesn’t change, we’re not voting,” said the leader of the right-wing National Alliance, Gianfranco Fini. “It would be irresponsible to operate in war conditions without offering soldiers the resources and rules of engagement they need in the face of terrorism.”

Italian reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo was released in exchange for five Taliban prisoners, a move criticised by the US and Britain. Demonstrations have been held in support of two Afghans who were kidnapped along with the Italian. They are still unaccounted for.

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