ROME (AP) — Milan's top security official has been tapped to run Rome after the mayor was forced to step down by fellow party leaders worried he couldn't turn around the city, plagued by corruption and inadequate public services.
The interior ministry on Saturday said Milan Prefect Francesco Paolo Tronca will be in charge until elections for a new mayor of the Italian capital are held, likely in the spring. Tronca, a native Sicilian, helped ensure security during Milan's Expo world's fair, which ended Saturday after drawing millions of visitors this year.
Tronca takes Rome's helm a few weeks before the first of as many as 30 million pilgrims arrive for the Holy Year declared by Pope Francis.
Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said Tronca was chosen "because the Holy Year must work like Expo worked."
"We succeeded in pulling off a Mafia-free Expo" by keeping at bay more than 100 businesses that could have had connections with mobsters, Alfano told an Italian radio station.
When elected mayor in 2013, Ignazio Marino inherited an administration where corruption in awarding public works contracts and political patronage in dishing out jobs in the transport and sanitation agencies had been rife for decades.
Marino called an anti-Mafia prosecutor to Rome to help ensure legality. That official, Alfonso Sabella, said Saturday that for years many public works contracts were awarded without bidding, and that Marino stopped that practice.
But on Friday, Democratic city council members quit en masse in what amounted to a no-confidence measure against the mayor, and Marino was forced to step down.
Already skeptical that Marino, a transplant surgeon who jumped into politics a decade ago, had the skills to heal Rome, many rebelled after he came under investigation for allegedly using city funds for family dinners. Marino denies wrongdoing and says his anti-corruption campaign won him political enemies.
Dozens of Democrats and opposition center-right politicians and businessmen are under investigation for systematic payoffs and kickbacks or for using Mafia-like intimidation methods to win public contracts under previous administrations. Under probe is Marino's predecessor in the City Hall, a former neo-fascist leader.