Samaras at odds with PM over transition gov’t

A day that started with the possibility of New Democracy having a considerable say in the formation of an interim government ended with conservative leader Antonis Samaras calling Prime Minister George Papandreou a ?liar? in Parliament and ND deputies walking out of the debate that began ahead of Friday?s vote of confidence.

Earlier on Thursday, Samaras and Papandreou spoke on the phone. The ND leader said he told the prime minister that the conservatives were willing to discuss the formation of an emergency short-term government that would be in a position to sign the new bailout agreed in Brussels last week and secure the disbursement of the next tranche of loans – worth 8 billion euros – and discuss with the eurozone the terms of the latest support package. Samaras set as a firm condition for any deal to be struck that Papandreou step down as prime minister.

However, in his initial speech to Parliament, Papandreou failed to spell out clearly his intention to stand aside or to pursue talks for an interim government with ND. This enraged Samaras, who labeled the prime minister a ?liar.?

?If he understood [from our conversation] that we want to govern with him, he understood wrong,? said Samaras. ?Resign Mr Papandreou, so the Greek people can give their support to the new prime minister to negotiate the new measures.?

Sources said the ND leader was angry that Papandreou had suggested that Samaras switched his stance on the new bailout only after being offered the chance to have a say in the makeup of the transition government. This prompted the conservative chief to ask his MPs to leave Parliament when the debate ahead of tomorrow?s confidence vote began.

Samaras argued that he stated clearly last week that he supported the latest package but did not agree with the terms that the eurozone and the IMF have attached to it. The ND leader believes there is too much emphasis on austerity.