NEWS

Minister quits over clientelism allegations

Deputy Interior Minister Dinos Rovlias yesterday became the first member of the government to lose his job since PASOK was voted into power some 70 days ago after it emerged his political office had attempted to seek the irregular transfer of police officers and soldiers to different posts. Both Rovlias and the government made it clear that the requests for transfers were never submitted to the Citizens’ Protection and Defense ministries. In fact, the documents were found in a recycling dumpster by a passer-by. It is not clear how details of the transfer requests emerged on an Internet blog on Monday. Sources said that Rovlias, 53, offered to resign on the same day but it was not until yesterday that he was informed his resignation had been accepted by Prime Minister Giorgos Papandreou. The premier’s aides judged that having such an issue pending at the same time that Papandreou was meeting other party leaders to discuss tackling corruption would be a calamitous own goal for the government. «Mr Rovlias… submitted his resignation to ensure that no shadows of clientelism are cast over the current government,» said government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis. Rovlias was considered one of the up-and-coming PASOK members during the party’s time in opposition and had been at the forefront of the group of MPs that declared their support for Papandreou in the party’s 2007 leadership race. «I accepted the political responsibility and have tendered my resignation regardless of the true substance of the accusations because I did not want to cause the slightest problem to the government or the country at this crucial time,» said the outgoing minister.