Greek PM won't lead new cabinet, unity deal not reached

EU gives Greece 24 hours to explain how it will form unity government to enact a bailout agreement ahead of finance ministers meeting.

By REUTERS
November 6, 2011 22:01
2 minute read.
Greek parliament

Greek parliament 311. (photo credit: REuters)

ATHENS/PARIS - The EU gave Greece 24 hours on Sunday to explain how it will form a unity government to enact a bailout agreement, and Prime Minister George Papandreou said he did not want to lead it, the closest he has come to meeting opposition calls to go.

Papandreou and his opponents have been scrambling to hammer out a deal for a unity government ahead of a meeting by finance ministers of euro countries on Monday, to show that Greece is serious about taking steps needed to stave off bankruptcy.

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The sides have been deadlocked on how long the unity cabinet would serve before elections, and who would lead it.

Papandreou said no deal had yet been struck with the conservative opposition, despite calls from Brussels for urgent progress on backing the 130 billion euro rescue package.

"It is clear that this government will pass the baton but it will not pass it to a void -- it will pass it to a new government, if we agree on it, and I hope this will happen soon. And when I say soon, I mean today, not tomorrow," he said in the text of remarks to his cabinet, released to the media.

"I'm not interested in being prime minister in the new government," Papandreou added.

The EU has made clear it wants a unity government in Greece to ensure consensus support for reform and restore confidence after a week that saw Papandreou first call for a referendum on the bailout and then backtrack under international pressure.

European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn told Reuters that finance ministers from countries that use the single currency would insist on hearing a plan for a unity government from their Greek colleague Evangelos Venizelos at Monday's meeting in Brussels.

"We have called for a national unity government and remain persuaded that it is the convincing way of restoring confidence and meeting the commitments," he told Reuters. "We need a convincing report on this by Finance Minister Venizelos tomorrow in the Eurogroup."


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