Reshuffle set for early July

On the morrow of Wednesday’s resignation of two close prime ministerial aides following revelations of their dealings on the Athens Stock Exchange, the government yesterday announced a cabinet reshuffle for the beginning of next month. Although the move had been widely rumored for weeks, following Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s announcement that he would leave important political decisions until the end of Greece’s EU presidency, it was the first official confirmation that ministers’ heads would roll. Government spokesman Christos Protopappas, who is in Halkidiki for the EU summit, said a reshuffle was «certain.» His deputy, Telemachos Hytiris, said the PM’s «political initiatives… which include a reshuffle» will be announced in the first 10 days of July. This followed the resignations of State Minister Stefanos Manikas and senior PASOK official Michalis Neonakis – who stepped down from the ruling Socialists’ Executive Bureau – following publication, by Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis during Tuesday’s debate in Parliament on the 1999 stock boom, of the cumulative value of their bourse transactions between 1998-2000 (over 64 million euros for Neonakis and 1.5 million for Manikas). Yesterday, Hytiris said Simitis had not been fully aware of the implications of the report supplied by Capital Markets Commission Chairman Stavros Thomadakis and received by Christodoulakis on Tuesday until the day after the debate. He said the premier had been told Tuesday, before a visit to Rome, that the report «did not mention criminal responsibility» on the part of Manikas and Neonakis. Hytiris said Simitis only learned the precise sums traded by the two on Wednesday morning.

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