A law professor who has never before held political office was sworn in as Italy’s new Prime Minister on Friday afternoon, ending almost three months of political uncertainty and bringing to power a new populist government.
Giuseppe Conte had been approved for Italy’s top office by the country’s President Sergio Mattarella Thursday evening after the right-wing League and anti-establishment Five Star Movement reached a coalition agreement.
Conte’s cabinet ministers – including leaders of the League and Five Star – are also being sworn in by Mattarella at the Quirinal, Italy’s presidential palace.
After meeting with the outgoing premier Paolo Gentiloni, Conte will hold his first cabinet meeting later Friday. Conte and his new government will also face a confidence vote in parliament next week.
Speaking at the Quirinal Thursday evening, Conte pledged his new government would “work intensely to realize the political goals of our agreement” and “work with determination to improve the lives of all Italians.”
The country’s new populist, euroskeptic government is likely to be met with alarm by other European leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who are both eager to push for further EU political and economic integration.
The League has also faced widespread criticism for xenophobic, anti-immigrant policies reminiscent of those forwarded by far-right parties across Europe, including Germany’s AfD and France’s National Front.
League leader Matteo Salvini, who promised during the election campaign to expel half a million illegal immigrants from Italy, has been sworn in as Italy’s new interior minister, while Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio is now labor and economic development minister, a key position to fulfill his campaign promise of a universal basic income.
Thursday marked the second time in less than two weeks that Conte had been approved for the role of prime minister. After being appointed by Mattarella last Wednesday following his nomination by the League and Five Star, Conte was forced to abandon his attempt to form a government the next day after the president rejected his choice of finance minister.
Italy Reports Highest Daily Death Toll Yet Of 969
Italy has on Friday reported the highest daily death toll of any country since the outbreak began.
Even as the number of new cases declined on Friday, the country confirmed that fatalities from the virus shot up to 969, bringing the total coronavirus related deaths to 9,134, among 86,498 cases.
In Spain, 769 new deaths were reported in the past 24 hours as the European country struggle to agree on a strategy to curb the spread of the virus. The total number of deaths from coronavirus in the country is now 4,858.
The U.S. overtook China for the most cases worldwide on Thursday, fueled by a large jump in infections in New York as the number of infections in the country is now more than 86,000 according to Johns Hopkins University.
Xi, Trump Hold Phone Conversation On Covid-19 Pandemic Control, Bilateral Ties
Chinese president, Xi Jinping says his country stands ready to enhance cooperation with, and offer support to, the United States to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak.
In a telephone conversation with US president Donald Trump, Xi stressed that China has been sharing information with the World Health Organization and countries, including the United States on covid-19, in an open, transparent and responsible manner since the onset of the epidemic.
He said China has also been sharing experience on covid-19 prevention, containment and treatment without any reservation.
Xi stressed that now, China-U.S. relations are at a critical juncture. He said cooperation can lead to mutual benefits for the two countries, while confrontation will do no good to anyone. He said cooperation is the only correct choice.
For his part, Trump said he, together with other foreign leaders, appreciates Xi’s vision and initiative at the G20 virtual summit.
The U.S. President said he is glad to see China’s progress in containing the epidemic and is inspired by China’s experience in this regard. Trump said the United States is willing to enhance cooperation with china in the medical and health field, including the research and development of anti-epidemic drugs.
23 Sailors On US Navy Aircraft Carrier Test Positive For Coronavirus
Two US officials say at least 23 sailors aboard the navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Only three cases were reported earlier this week. As a result of the dramatic increase in the number of infected sailors, the ship has been docked on the Island of Guam, so health authorities would be able to test all five thousand sailors aboard the carrier.
Chief of naval operations, Admiral Mike Gilday said the navy takes this threat very seriously and is working quickly to identify and isolate positive cases, while preventing further spread of the virus aboard the ship. He said no sailors had been hospitalized or are seriously ill.
Gilday told reporters on Tuesday authorities don’t know if the sailors became infected with the coronavirus when the ship made a port call in Vietnam in early March.
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