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Prodi asked to form government

ROME, Italy (CNN) -- Italy's new prime minister, Romano Prodi, Tuesday received a mandate to form a new government from new president Georgio Napolitano.

Although the role of president is largely ceremonial, Prodi, whose center-left government won an extremely close election in April, could not take office until Napolitano was sworn in, which happened Monday.

Prodi unseated Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who had ruled the country for five years with a large majority in parliament.

Napolitano served as interior minister under Prodi's previous government in the late 1990s and is well respected by the center-left.

He replaced Azeglio Ciampi, 86, a popular figure in Italian politics who had said before the April elections that he had no plans to seek a second term as president and would leave before his mandate was up on May 18.

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