NEWS

Maverick MP to quit ND

Outspoken conservative lawmaker Yiannis Manolis yesterday appeared ready to resign from his post in September, when Parliament returns from its summer recess, but does not intend to trigger the collapse of the government and with it a general election. The Argolida MP, who is a regular fixture on TV news shows and discussion panels, sent a personal letter to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis at the beginning of the week. The contents of the letter were not made public but Manolis is believed to have expressed disappointment at the direction in which New Democracy has taken and expresses concern that the government is headed for defeat at the next general election. Manolis let it be known in private that he has decided to step down on September 8, when Parliament enters the last session of the summer recess, which officially began yesterday. The government declined to comment on the possible resignation of the deputy. «If someone wishes to resign from their position, that is their right,» said government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros. Earlier in the day, Manolis issued a statement saying that, contrary to rumors, he has no intention of joining the right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) and there was no question of the government’s stability being threatened. «I state unequivocally that this will not happen,» the controversial lawmaker said. «Those dreaming up conspiracy scenarios should stop this absurdity.» ND has a majority of just one seat in Parliament but if Manolis simply quits without remaining in the House as an independent or joining another party, then the government can replace him and avoid having to call elections. Manolis has courted controversy numerous times since first being elected to Parliament in 2004, often shedding political niceties and speaking his mind as he had done when he was general secretary of the GSEE union between 1998 and 2004. The 59-year-old had offered his resignation in February, after publicly predicting a poll defeat for the government and a leadership struggle within ND, but it was not accepted.