Paolo Gentiloni is Italy's new prime minister

Gentiloni is a close ally of Renzi who had to resign after a crushing referendum defeat. Photograph:( AFP )

AFP Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy Dec 11, 2016, 12.45 PM (IST)

Paolo Gentiloni was named Sunday as Italy's new prime minister following reformist leader Matteo Renzi's resignation in the wake of a crushing referendum defeat.

Gentiloni, who had been Renzi's foreign minister, was asked by President Sergio Mattarella to form a new government that will guide Italy to elections due by February 2018, a presidency spokesman announced. 

Gentiloni, 62, is seen as a close ally of Renzi who is unlikely to get in the way of the outgoing premier's plans for a political comeback.

Gentiloni now has to put together his own government line up which is expected to be put to a parliamentary confidence vote on Wednesday.

Mattarella had vowed Saturday to move quickly to fill the void created by Renzi's departure, saying the country urgently needed a new administration to handle a string of pressing problems. 

Chief among those is a looming crisis in the troubled banking sector and ongoing relief efforts after a series of deadly earthquakes between August and October.

(AFP)