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Cottarelli stands aside as populist govt eyes power

SECURITY
Cottarelli stands aside as populist govt eyes power

Former IMF director Carlo Cottarelli on Thursday handed back to Italy's president Sergio Mattarella his mandate to form a technical cabinet after the far-right League party and the anti-establishment Five Star were said to have formed a populist government.

"It was an honour to serve my country, even if it was only for a few days," Cottarelli told reporters after his brief meeting with Mattarella at the Quirinale Palace in Rome.

The coalition government is to be led by Giuseppe Conte, the original prime ministerial candidate selected by the League and Five-Star, Adnkronos learned from unnamed sources.

League leader Salvini and Five-Star chief Luigi Di Maio will both be deputy premier and Salvini will be interior minister while Di Maio will serve as welfare minister, according to the sources.

Giorgio Giorgetti, the League's second-in-command is set to be cabinet under-secretary, said the sources.

The key job of finance minister will go to Giovanni Tria, an economics professor at Rome's Tor Vergata, while the populists' original choice of economy minister, 81-year-old eurosceptic Paolo Savona, is set to be given the job of European affairs minister, the Adnkronos sources said.

Conte was due later on Thursday to present the new populist cabinet line-up to Mattarella.

"Maybe finally we are there, after many obstacles, attacks, threats and lies," Salvini tweeted earlier.

The pro-European Mattarella on Monday invited Cottarelli to try and form a technocrat government when Conte resigned after Mattarella rejected Savona as finance minister citing investor concerns at home and abroad and sparking the populists' fury.

In a bid to stave off a snap election in July after Salvini and Di Maio said they would not vote confidence in any technocrat government, Mattarella gave the two leaders more time to hold further talks on a cabinet.

Italy has been in political limbo since the inconclusive 4 March national election in which populist parties made strong gains but no party or bloc won an outright parliamentary majority.

Several rounds of talks with Italy's party leaders since the March polls collapsed amid a seemingly irreconcilable mesh of demands.

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