PASOK leader says he will quit, in time

PASOK leader George Papandreou left his party in a state of confusion Wednesday after announcing he would step down as its president, but only after the general elections, even though he declared he would not lead the Socialists in the upcoming contest.

Speaking to PASOK?s political council, Papandreou said he had decided to quit politics but that a leadership contest would only take place after the parliamentary elections, which could take place in April.

?I will fulfill to the utmost my duties as set out in the party charter,? he told high-ranking party officials. ?There are no other, second or ulterior thoughts.?

According to the plan proposed by the former prime minister, he will remain party president for now but someone else will be elected to lead the party in the next election. This candidate will be chosen by PASOK?s parliamentary group and its national council, rather than by grassroots members. It is only after the general election that Papandreou plans to launch a contest for a new president, in which regular party members will be able to vote.

Several members of the political council objected to Papandreou?s proposal and called for him to step aside immediately. ?We need a change of leadership now, otherwise you should lead the party at the elections,? said Tonia Antoniou.

The PASOK leader also caused a stir by attacking Stavros Psycharis, the president of the Lambrakis (DOL) media group. Papandreou accused Psycharis of undermining the PASOK government because the former prime minister had advised the National Bank of Greece not to lend DOL 10 million euros. Psycharis responded by saying that Papandreou?s alleged intervention ?betrays a fascist attitude.?

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