NEWS

Council of State president to be new caretaker PM [UPDATE]

Panayiotis Pikramenos to visit President Papoulias on Wednesday

The leader of Greece's caretaker government will be Council of State president Panayiotis Pikramenos, state television reported on Wednesday following the completion of the latest meeting of party leaders under President Karolos Papoulias, noting that the likeliest date for a second round of elections was June 17.

Pikramenos visited the presidential mansion at 3.15 p.m. to be officially appointed. In a televised conversation between the two men, the top judge said the role was «a great burden» but thanked the president for «putting your trust in me.» «I hope I can live up to the task,» he said. Pikramenos, whose name means «embittered,» added that he had perhaps the most appropriate name for the job.

State television added that there had been a dispute between party leaders about who should assume the role with socialist Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos and conservative New Democracy chief Antonis Samaras reportedly accepting the president's proposal for technocrat premier Lucas Papademos to continue in his position while the head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Alexis Tsipras said the post should go to Gerasimos Arsenis, a veteran socialist and former minister.

In the end, the president decided, in accordance to the constitution, to appoint the head of one of Greece?s three highest courts.

Emerging from the talks Communist Party leader Aleka Papariga told reporters that «political games were played even in talks for the appointment of a caretaker prime minister.»

The leader of the Democratic Left, Fotis Kouvelis, said he had insisted that the premier, and indeed the caretaker government, be «politically neutral.»

The leader of the Democratic Left, Fotis Kouvelis, said he had insisted that the premier, and indeed the caretaker government, be «politically neutral.»

Venizelos remarked that there was «no more scope for easy populism and trading in false illusions.» «The country must remain upright,» he said. «This is not easy, it is not straightforward, it demands effort from everyone.»

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