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New cabinet replaces ministers who voted against EU reforms

© Angelos Tzortzinis, AFP file picture | | Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras attends a cabinet meeting in the Greek parliament on February 21.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2015-07-18

A revamped Greek government took over Saturday in an effort to enforce a third bailout accompanied by tough fiscal reforms opposed by a sizeable section of the ruling Syriza party.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday reshuffled his administration to fill the vacancies left by three cabinet members who were sacked after voting against the reforms in parliament last week.

Tsipras faced down a mutiny from his party in parliament last week, with over 30 of his 149 lawmakers refusing to approve the package of tax hikes, pension reform and privatisations demanded by lenders.

Greece must approve a second batch of banking and justice-related reforms on Wednesday to qualify for a three-year bailout of up to 86 billion euros ($94 billion).

Tsipras and other members of his government have publicly admitted they do not believe the reforms to which they have signed up will benefit the country.

His new spokeswoman Olga Gerovassili on Saturday repeated that the leftist government would attempt to counterbalance the "bad deal" with "compensating" measures to support the poor and the middle class.

The appointment of a TV soap opera comedian as junior labour minister has raised eyebrows but the new appointee, Pavlos Haikalis, insisted he had relevant expertise.

"I was party spokesman for social security for three years," said Haikalis, a member of the nationalist Independent Greeks party which is Syriza's junior coalition partner.

"I am taking over a very hot potato, I must handle it with love and cool it down if I can," Haikalis said.

Analysts say that Tsipras will probably have to hold snap elections in the autumn, and that the reshuffle is merely designed to keep the government going until the bailout is finalised.

Already, some of the main parties to the deal are raising doubts over its viability.

Some German officials have suggested that it might be better for Greece to take a five-year "time-out" from the euro.

The International Monetary Fund, for its part, has left a question mark over its participation in another rescue package, saying it will not join in unless there is "dramatic" relief on Greece's debt to make the country's finances more sustainable.

Meanwhile, Tsipras' outspoken former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has cast doubt on the government's ability to enforce the unpopular reforms.

"The government of the left cannot undertake obligations it knows it cannot fulfil...the government of the left has no right to further plunder the victims of the five-year crisis without at least giving a positive answer to the question 'did you at least achieve something that counterbalances the recessionary measures?'" he wrote in Efimerida ton Syntakton daily.

(AFP)

Date created : 2015-07-17

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