NEWS

PM faces new problem as five cabinet members resign

Five cabinet ministers, including the whole contingent from the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), resigned on Friday ahead of a meeting to be chaired by interim Prime Minister Lucas Papademos.

The resignations prompted speculation that Papademos, who has only been in office since November, might use the opportunity to conduct a reshuffle but they also heightened speculation that a new bailout could be jeopardized by political instability in Greece.

Four Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) MPs resigned from the Cabinet but two said they will go against their party leaders? wishes and vote in favor of Greece?s new loan agreement.

Transport Minister Makis Voridis, Deputy Merchant Marine Minister Adonis Georgiadis, Deputy Defense Minister Giorgos Georgiou and Deputy Agriculture Minister Asterios Rondoulis tendered their resignation after LAOS leader Giorgos Karatzaferis said that he would not support the loan agreement following lengthy negotiations this week.

However, in their resignation letters, Voridis and Georgiadis, said they would vote for the new bailout on Sunday.

LAOS, which has 16 MPs, had four Cabinet members. The fourth, Giorgos Georgiou, has not clarified his position so far.

Earlier, Karatzaferis held a news conference to explain why his party would not vote for the bailout, which requires Greece to adopt further tough austerity measures.

"The creditors are asking for 40 years of submission,? Karatzaferis said.

?Greece will not give itself up. Greece can survive outside the EU but cannot survive under a German boot.?

The decision by Voridis and Georgiadis to go against the party line by saying they would vote for the measures suggests that an irreparable rift has developed within LAOS, which has seen its support in the polls drop to just 5 percent.

Deputy Foreign Minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou, a member of PASOK, also resigned from the Cabinet on Friday afternoon. She was the second member of the Socialist party to quit after Deputy Labor Minister Yiannis Koutsoukos, who resigned on Thursday, citing opposition to the austerity measures that Greece would have to adopt as part of the new loan agreement.

PASOK and New Democracy were due to hold meetings of their parliamentary groups on Friday but both parties postponed these talks until Saturday.

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