Berlusconi sworn in as Italy’s prime minister

May 9th, 2008 - 7:13 am ICT by admin  

Rome, May 8 (DPA) Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi led Thursday the members of his new government in a swearing-in ceremony in Rome. The 71-year-old Berlusconi was the first to take an oath of allegiance to Italy’s constitution before President Giorgio Napolitano.

The premier was followed by his 21-member cabinet, each of whom repeated the oath before Napolitano in a hall at the presidential Quirinale Palace.

The new Equal Opportunities Minister, Mara Carfagna, a 32-year-old former showgirl on television channels owned by Berlusconi, was the first of the four female cabinet ministers to be sworn in.

Billionaire-turned-politician Berlusconi’s return to office came three weeks after his centre-right coalition’s triumph in parliamentary elections.

“Now we can go back to work after an interruption of two years,” Berlusconi said late Wednesday after Napolitano handed him a mandate to form a government.

He was referring to his last stint in office which ended in April 2006 when he lost elections to the centre-left led by former prime minister Romano Prodi.

Berlusconi’s new government includes Franco Frattini who resigned as the European Union’s top security official to take up the post of foreign minister.

Berlusconi has pledged to hold the first “operational meeting” of the new cabinet in Naples, which has been in the grips of a rubbish crisis since late December 2007.

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