Italian prime minister seeks to extend COVID-19 emergency period

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte asked parliament on Tuesday to extend a state of emergency, which expands his government's powers as it tackles the coronavirus health crisis. Opposition parties objected that Conte was trying to keep too much power in his own hands despite a dramatic fall in the rate of contagion. Conte announced a six-month state of emergency on Jan

Reuters July 29, 2020 00:12:20 IST
Italian prime minister seeks to extend COVID-19 emergency period

Italian prime minister seeks to extend COVID19 emergency period

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte asked parliament on Tuesday to extend a state of emergency, which expands his government's powers as it tackles the coronavirus health crisis.

Opposition parties objected that Conte was trying to keep too much power in his own hands despite a dramatic fall in the rate of contagion.

Conte announced a six-month state of emergency on Jan. 31, when the first two cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Rome.

"The virus continues to evolve and has not run its course. It would be incongruous to abruptly suspend such an effective measure," Conte told the upper house, the Senate.

However, he drew back from requesting an extension until the end of the year, saying he only wanted a renewal until October.

The state of emergency gives greater powers to both regional and central government, including making it easier for ministers to declare red zones should the disease flare up again, and to bolster hospital resources.

It will also cut bureaucracy as officials prepare schools to reopen in September after being shut for six months.

Italy has been one of the worst-affected countries in Europe, registering more than 35,000 deaths from around 246,500 cases. However, new infections have fallen sharply over the past three months and Conte's critics said he needed to involve parliament in key decisions.

"I'm shocked. Conte is arguing in the Senate that without a state of emergency the government is unable to make normal decrees, bills, ordinances. This is a gross lie and a very dangerous assault on liberty," tweeted Giorgia Meloni, head of the far-right Brothers of Italy party.

The Senate, where the coalition has only a paper-thin majority, is due to vote on the request on Tuesday evening.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer and Giuseppe Fonte; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.