Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Italian gov't loses vote on Afghanistan mission :)

Italian gov't loses Senate vote on Afghanistan mission
chinaview news

ROME, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) --
The Italian government on Wednesday lost a vote in the Senate on its mission in Afghanistan. Prime Minister Romano Prodi's administration had threatened to resign if it could not win the vote.

A total of 158 senators supported the motion, which is below the necessary Senate majority of 160.

The opposition immediately called on the government to resign.

The motion was not a confidence vote and the government constitutionally need not to quit. But Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said earlier that the government should step down if it could not win the vote.

Italy currently has 1,800 troops in Afghanistan, which were sent in by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Some left-wing members of the current government oppose Italy's presence in Afghanistan.

Italy's Prodi Loses Vote in Senate on Afghanistan Mission

Feb. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi's ruling nine-party bloc fell 2 votes short on a motion to support the government's foreign policy, and on keeping its military contingent in Afghanistan.

While the vote was non-binding, it was a signal that Prodi's one-vote majority in the Senate wouldn't hold up in a vote to refund the Afghanistan mission scheduled for next month. Opposition leaders immediately asked for Prodi to resign.

``Prodi's government has just fallen,'' said Vito Schifani, the leader of Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party in Rome's Senate.

Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema urged his allies in the nine-party ruling coalition to support keeping the country's military contingent in Afghanistan as a way to promote peace in a speech to the Senate before the vote on whether to support or reject D'Alema's foreign policy.

The renewal of funding for Italy's 1,800 soldiers in Kabul and Heart must be passed through both houses of parliament by the end of March.

``It's normal for the prime minister to meet with his Cabinet to make a decision after a vote like this,'' said Antonio Boccia, a Senator who is part of the ruling bloc after the vote.

Opposition From Allies

As many as nine Senators who are part of the ruling coalition want Italy to end its Afghan mission and have threatened to oppose renewing funding in a vote scheduled for March. D'Alema said yesterday that divisions over Afghanistan could lead to the collapse of the government. Today he tried to emphasize Italy's commitment to aid Afghani civilians and to seek a political solution to continued fighting there.

At a meeting Feb. 8 of NATO defense ministers in Seville, Spain, the U.S. appealed to its European allies to commit more troops to Afghanistan, calling for a fairer sharing of the military burdens in the battle against the Taliban.

Prodi has said that he will not commit additional troops, while pledging to maintain Italy's current commitment.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Afghan force now has 35,460 troops from 37 countries, led by the U.S. with 14,000 and Britain with 5,200. American, British, Canadian and Dutch troops are doing most of the fighting in Taliban strongholds in southern Afghanistan, while nations such as Germany, France and Italy restrict their forces mainly to the calmer north and west.


Mushroom said...

Prodi has just resigned.

This was something he has not handled well at all. Prodi's failure to discuss things with his more left coalition partners over whether the US should withdraw its bases from Italy is a sign of poor political instincts.