In brief: Letta appointed premier-designate
Rome – Italy’s president appointed Enrico Letta as premier-designate Wednesday, asking him to form a coalition government representing Italy’s main parties to end two months of political paralysis and put the country back on the path of reform and growth.
Letta, a 46-year-old center-left lawmaker and No. 2 Democratic Party leader, said he accepted the job knowing it’s an enormous responsibility and that Italy’s political class “has lost all credibility.”
President Giorgio Napolitano charged Letta with putting together a coalition government of the Democratic Party and the center-right party of Premier Silvio Berlusconi, the two biggest blocks in Parliament.
Letta also represents something of a new generation in Italian politics, after the traditional guard has been discredited by scandals, infighting and inertia. In a perhaps scripted but nevertheless significant gesture, Letta drove himself to the presidential palace to accept the job as premier in his own Fiat. Normally politicians are driven around town with an accompanying motorcade.
These “auto blu,” as the chauffeured cars are known, have become the despised emblems of the privileges of Italy’s political elite.
Violent clashes in China kill 21 people
Beijing – Violent clashes in China’s far-west province of Xinjiang, home to the Turkic-speaking Uighur minority, reportedly left 21 people dead in what official media described Wednesday as fighting between “suspected terrorists and authorities.”
The state Xinhua news wire said that among the dead were 15 field staff and police officers, in addition to six “suspects.”
That story and an account carried by a government-run website in Xinjiang said the confrontation was sparked Tuesday after three official “community workers” reported the presence of knives and suspicious people in a house in Bachu County, which is about 750 miles southwest of the provincial capital of Urumqi.
A Uighur exile activist group gave a different version.
Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the German-based World Uyghur Congress, which uses an alternate spelling for the minority group, wrote in an email that the conflict Tuesday was fueled by the police shooting and killing a young Uighur man.