Simitis tells MPs to show colors

After two of his MPs announced on Sunday they were leaving the ruling Socialists’ fold, Premier Costas Simitis gave all deputies a four-day deadline yesterday to decide whether to seek re-election at the forthcoming polls. «I would like each MP to inform me in writing by Thursday, November 20, whether they desire to be a candidate in the next elections,» the PM said in a letter to PASOK MPs. The Socialists’ central committee will meet on Friday. A first response came in shortly after, with Dodecanese MP Dimitris Kremastinos, 61, a former health minister, writing to say he would not be standing for election in order to take over a university heart clinic. Former Public Order and Education Minister Stelios Papathemelis, 65, said Sunday he was leaving PASOK but staying in Parliament as an independent MP – prompting government spokesman Christos Protopapas yesterday to urge him to resign his Salonica seat. Also Sunday, Kyriakos Spyriounis, 70, said he would not defend his Thessaloniki seat in spring – unless Simitis stepped down.