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Greek opposition leader urges prime minister to resign

November 3, 2011 |  1:25 pm

REPORTING FROM ATHENS -- Greece’s conservative opposition leader insisted Thursday that embattled Prime Minister George Papandreou resign and agree to swift elections by the end of the year.

At that time, said Antonis Samaras of the New Democracy party, an interim government would be formed in a bid to safeguard a new European bailout agreement and the next installment of rescue loans to the cash-strapped Mediterranean country.

Samaras' fiery demand came as Papandreou moved to scrap a controversial plan to hold a referendum on the bailout plan.

"I made my overture," Samaras told lawmakers, saying he had won the support of rival conservatives. “But I never accepted a deal to co-govern.”

Samaras said he proposed the creation of an interim government and suggested elections follow six weeks later.

“I told Papandreou to resign. He hasn’t,” Samaras said, and staged a dramatic walkout during a parliamentary debate about the viability of the Greek government.

Papandreou’s proposed referendum caused an uproar in Greece and abroad, where fears were mounting that the Mediterranean country would abandon the euro currency it shares with 17 other nations, and trigger a global financial crisis.

Aides to Papandreou said the prime minister was scheduled to speak with his conservative rival later Thursday, but the fate of a unity government remained in question.


Greek government teeters on the brink of collapse

Papandreou agrees to open talks for a new unity government

Greek debt crisis: Papandreou drops plan for bailout referendum

-- Anthee Carassava

Photo: Greece's main conservative opposition leader, Antonis Samaras, speaks at the Greek parliament on Thursday during a session debating the issue of a confidence vote in the government. Credit: Louisa Gouliamaki / Agence France-Presse/Getty Images