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Fake election posters encouraging cardinals to vote for Ghanaian prelate Peter Turkson to be the next pope went up around central Rome on Friday in a provocation by an anonymous group of artists.
"At The Conclave Vote Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson" said the posters with a large picture of the African cardinal in his scarlet beretta looking up at the sky.
The poster also showed an episcopal symbol crossed out to indicate who to vote for -- an imitation of Italian parliamentary candidates' posters that were posted up all around ahead of a general election earlier this week.
The move was claimed by the "ZeroZeroKappaKappa" collective "00kk.org" who have carried out similar campaigns in the past, including official-looking posters complaining about price rises for cocaine, heroin and marijuana.
Cardinals from around the world are to meet in conclave in the Sistine Chapel in the first half of this month to elect a new pope after the 85-year-old Benedict XVI stepped down on Thursday saying he was worn out.
Turkson, who is head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, is seen as one possibility and would be the first black pope in history.