Rome, February 13 - The mayor of Rome said Wednesday that the city is preparing a 'command center' to ensure that all offices, departments and infrastructure run smoothly from the time the pope steps down at the end of the month to when his successor is elected. The command center, according to Mayor Gianni Alemanno, "will guarantee the proper reception and security of the faithful who come to Rome from around the world to witness the events culminating in the election of a new pontiff". Alemanno said special attention will be paid to traffic and transportation, especially around the Vatican. An estimated 150,000 faithful flocked to St Peter's in 2005 within minutes of the announcement of a new pope - Benedict XVI, who succeeded John Paul II. In a historic move, 85-year-old Benedict announced Monday he will step down on February 28 citing declining health. A conclave of cardinals to elect the next pope is expected to take place March 15.
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di Giovanni Pastore