Political novice Giuseppe Conte sworn in as Italy's new PM

Political novice Giuseppe Conte sworn in as Italy's new PM

4 March: Inconclusive elections left Italy, the EU's fourth-biggest economy, without a government.

Mr Conte was destined to become prime minister last week before Whitlam-like dismissal crisis threatened to derail his prime ministership before it had begun.

Earlier this week, the 5-Star Movement and the right-wing League abandoned their plan to form a coalition after Mattarella vetoed their choice of 81-year-old eurosceptic economist Paolo Savona as finance minister.

Yet migrant arrivals to Italy actually plunged in the a year ago under the center-left Democratic Party, which signed controversial deals with Libya to beef up coastal patrols and prevent migrants from setting out in smugglers' boats across the Mediterranean Sea.

In Rome's gilded Quirinale Palace, President Sergio Mattarella swore in 18 new ministers, including anti-establishment figures, right-wingers and politicians from former governments.

After being sworn in, the ministers will face confidence votes in both chambers of parliament, where the M5S and the League have a majority.

League leader Matteo Salvini shot back saying the party had "never received a lira, euro or ruble from Russia", though he said Russian President Vladimir Putin was "one of the best statesman".

In his role as interior minister in the new government, Salvini vowed to expel them en masse, dismissing logistical challenges and costs.

While confirming Italy's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation commitments, the new government's policy agenda calls for lifting European Union sanctions against Russian Federation as well as the opening of dialogue and partnerships, given Moscow's economic, commercial and strategic importance.

Disengagement of forces in southwest Syria to take place shortly, says ambassador
He also expressed gratitude for Iran's help against foreign-backed terrorism in Syria since the beginning of the crisis. "We were close to have direct conflict between the Russian forces and the American forces", Assad said.

Despite decrying Italy's long history of installing unelected technocrats, the parties suggested Conte as prime minister.

Conte, 53, who has been criticised as being a "Mr Nobody", named hardline anti-migrant Salvini as interior minister, while Di Maio is minister for economic development. Salvini has promised to reduce numbers further and speed up expulsions. Le Pen shares the League's firm stance against immigrants.

The new government delighted leaders of an increasingly bolder far-right in European politics.

The opposition Democratic Party warned that the new government would be "Right-wing, populist and unsafe".

"Gotta stay strong or the bully boys will be after you", he warned.

"Bravo, the coalition of Matteo Salvini's Lega party [and the M5S led by Di Maio], which has ultimately formed a new Italian government".

Salvini has branded as "racist" advice from European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for Italians to work harder and be less corrupt instead of blaming their woes on the EU.

A senior League official said Savona will be likely picked for European Affairs minister.

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