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Berlusconi Unveils Italy's New Cabinet


Italy's conservative leader Silvio Berlusconi formed the country's 62nd postwar government on Wednesday. It is the third time Mr. Berlusconi will be prime minister. His new cabinet is to be sworn in on Thursday. Sabina Castelfranco has this VOA report from Rome.

Berlusconi, 71, will be in charge of a cabinet that includes some new, old and controversial faces. This will be the third time the media magnate will lead the Italian government.

After meeting with the head of state at the presidential palace Wednesday, Mr. Berlusconi read out his cabinet list to reporters.

Mr. Berlusconi announced that Franco Frattini, the outgoing European Union justice commissioner, would serve as foreign minister and Giulio Tremonti would serve as finance minister. Both return to posts they held in previous Berlusconi governments.

Also in the cabinet is a controversial Northern League official, Roberto Calderoli, who once caused an outcry by wearing a T-shirt with the image of Prophet Muhammad.

The cabinet will be composed of 21 members, 12 full ministers and 11 without portfolio. The government will be sworn in on Thursday and then faces a vote of confidence in parliament, which is controlled by Mr. Berlusconi's conservative forces.

Mr. Berlusconi scored a commanding victory in early general elections last month, ousting his center-left rivals and returning to power after just two years. His most difficult task will be to help revive Italy's struggling economy, Europe's fourth largest.

Another priority for Mr. Berlusconi is cleaning up the garbage that has piled up in the streets of Naples. He has repeatedly said that the garbage crisis has done great damage to Italy's image, and has promised to hold his first cabinet meeting in the southern Italian city.

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