NEWS

Samaras ousts MP over 'far-right' comments

Opposition party New Democracy was put firmly in the spotlight on Monday after leader Antonis Samaras said he would not sign a letter committing himself to demands from Brussels.

Samaras made the comments to his parliamentary group a few hours before expelling conservative veteran Sotiris Hatzigakis from the parliamentary group for suggesting that ?far-right elements? had worked their way into the party.

In a statement, Samaras said the former justice minister?s comments was insulting to the party and its MPs.

?I want to draw attention to the fact that some far-right elements, operating under the banner of the popular right, are trying to alter the makeup of New Democracy,? said Hatzigakis during a meeting of the party?s parliamentary group.

?New Democracy is a big, national, middle-class, European party with many currents,? said Hatzigakis. ?It contains the popular right, the liberal right and the middle ground. That is the New Democracy that Constantine Karamanlis built and we are not going to let anybody change it.?

Samaras said that the Trikala MP went against the party?s constitution by suggesting there were several groups within New Democracy.

The ND leader said Hatzigakis would face a disciplinary committee to decide whether he would be expelled from the party as well as the parliamentary group.

Samaras may also have to decide whether to oust another MP, Panos Kammenos who said he would not give the interim government his vote of confidence in a parliamentary vote on Wednesday.

Earlier on Monday, Samaras had told his MPs that he would continue to oppose austerity measures, even if they are proposed by the interim administration that his party joined last week.

"I agree with the goals to cut government spending ... to reduce debt, to erase the deficit, to make structural changes. I do not agree with whatever stunts growth,» said Samaras.

Samaras also said he would not sign any letter pledging support for conditions on a 130 billion euro bailout as EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn has demanded.

"I don't sign such statements,» he said, adding that his word should be sufficient.

Rehn suggested last week that Samaras, former prime minister George Papandreou, new premier Lucas Papademos, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Bank of Greece governor Giorgos Provopoulos would have to sign the documents for Greece to receive its next loan instalment of 8 billion euros.

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