PASOK leader to overhaul 'rotten' party

In one of the briefest ever sessions of his parliamentary group on Friday afternoon, socialist PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos demanded, and gained, the resignation of the party?s 14-member political council after a fiery speech in which he called for a radical overhaul of the party, claiming that it was ?rotten? and needed to be rebuilt from scratch.

A simple shake-up was not enough, he said, noting that the party was in need of a ?rebirth? so badly that its next leader should be ?in his 30s.?

PASOK?s spokeswoman Fofi Gennimata elaborated, heralding the creation of national committee to ?rebuild? the party on the level of central as well as local government.

Venizelos also expressed vehement criticism of former Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos, who is in custody pending trial for money laundering, saying that the case of the Socialist stalwart, who is alleged to have pocketed millions of euros in kickbacks from defense deals, ?epitomized a rotten system.?

Venizelos was to address newly elected PASOK MPs at noon on Saturday, an hour before he is scheduled to return his mandate for forming a government to President Karolos Papoulias.

Separately, sources indicated that Democratic Alliance leader Dora Bakoyannis and Drasi leader Stefanos Manos, both former ministers, were close to an agreement on joining forces ahead of possible elections in June.