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Italian Prime Minister Makes Final Plea to Hostile Senate for Support

Embattled Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi has made a final plea to a hostile Senate to back his government in a vote of confidence set for later Thursday.

Mr. Prodi, who will be required to resign if he loses the vote, asked senators to endorse his center-left coalition. He said Senate backing would enable him to pursue needed government reforms. He also said Italy cannot afford the consequences of the fall of his government.

The prime minister's ruling coalition lost its slim Senate majority last week, when a key ally quit the government.

Justice Minister Clemente Mastela stepped down and said his small centrist party would oppose the prime minister in any confidence vote. Mastela is the target of a government corruption probe.

Two other senators Wednesday also said they will not support Mr. Prodi.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.