Giorgio Napolitano sworn in Italian president
Elected by lawmakers loyal to Romano Prodi, Napolitano, 80, is the country's first former communist to be made head of state.Updated: May 16, 2006 11:08 IST
Giorgio Napolitano was sworn in Italy's 11th post-war president and inaugurated his seven-year mandate with a call for national reconciliation in the wake of last month's bitterly contested general election.
"I will be everyone's president," Napolitano told lawmakers and regional representatives attending the ceremony in parliament here on Monday.
Elected last week by lawmakers loyal to Romano Prodi's centre-left coalition, Napolitano, 80, is the country's first former communist to be made head of state. He succeeds Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, who formally resigned hours earlier.
Napolitano's inauguration was greeted by 21 cannon shots fired from the nearby Gianicolo Hill and the tolling of bells from the parliament's bell tower.
His first act as president will be to hold consultations with party leadersahead of giving Prodi, the winner of recent elections, a mandate to form a new government, possibly as soon as Wednesday.
In his inaugural speech, the new president noted that the centre-left coalition had a right to govern under Italy's now 15-year-old majority system. But he also criticised the excessive acrimony that had emerged between the country's opposing coalitions.
The April 9-10 general election saw Prodi prevail over Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right grouping by less than 0.1 per cent of the national vote following a particularly bitter campaign.
In calling for "democratic maturity" and reconciliation, Napolitano also urged lawmakers to consider working together to approve constitutional reforms and safeguard "Italy's role in Europe and the world".
Napolitano's swearing-in as president ended weeks of political limbo following the April election.
First Published: May 16, 2006 11:06 IST