Minister quits in bid to run party

Citizens? Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis said on Monday that he would quit the government to run in a forthcoming contest for the leadership of Socialist PASOK.

In a letter to Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, Papoutsis tendered his resignation, saying he did not want to ?involve the ministry in the pre-election procedure of PASOK.?

The minister, who oversaw the police and other security services, said he had felt obliged to remain in his post until the completion of decisions relating to Greece?s new loan deal with creditors.

He was criticized for riots that broke out during an anti-austerity rally which coincided with a vote on the debt deal earlier this month.

A former European commissioner, Papoutsis is seen as an outsider in the leadership contest — set for March 18 — with Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos the favorite. Former minister Stefanos Tzoumakas has also said he will run while Louka Katseli and Michalis Chrysochoidis, both ex-ministers, are also expected to.

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