NEWS

Rift deepens between SYRIZA, prominent party member after criticism of party processes

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Main opposition party SYRIZA on Thursday accused a prominent party member and former justice minister of “adopting the propaganda and fake news" of the ruling Conservatives after he expressed concerns about divisions in the party.

Former justice minister Stavros Kontonis, who served as justice minister in the SYRIZA-led government from 2016 to 2018, told Antenna TV on Thursday morning that his decision to resign from from SYRIZA’s central committee was prompted by “in-fighting,” which, he said, “does not correspond to the needs of workers, the people and society.”

In an apparent barb aimed at party leader Alexis Tsipras, Kontonis also appealed to fellow SYRIZA members “not to give in to a series of machinations in the runup to the [party’s] congress.”

SYRIZA responded with a press release calling the statements “unacceptable," and saying they “serve political interests hostile to the Left and SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance.”

In a retort, Kontonis described SYRIZA’s press release as “a monument to slander and Stalinism which I will not dignify with an answer.”

The former minister also vehemently denied New Democracy’s suggestion that his resignation was due to his disagreement over changes introduced to the criminal code by the leftist government in the spring of 2019 making the sentences for a number of crimes more lenient, such as for forming and running a criminal organization.

Instead, he said, his departure is exclusively related to the “catastrophic introversion, the internal machinations, and the public recriminations of party officials ahead of the [party] congress and other serious internal party problems, which constantly create the most negative image for the party and the progressive bloc.”