Debate Over Greek Interim Government Enters 3rd Day

Posted November 9th, 2011 at 6:25 am (UTC-5)
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Greek party leaders halted debate on the formation of a new coalition government early Wednesday without reaching consensus, but were set to resume talks later in the day.

Outgoing Prime Minister George Papandreou and main opposition leader Antonis Samaras have been locked in talks since Monday on who will lead a power-sharing government until early elections, tentatively scheduled for February 19, are held.

Mr. Papandreou agreed to step down after getting the opposition to support an international bailout deal for his country.

State-run Greek television had reported Tuesday that economist Lucas Papademos, the former vice president of the European Central Bank, would be named the country’s interim prime minister. Other possible candidates for the post are reportedly under consideration.

The European Union demanded that both Mr. Papandreou’s Socialists and Samaras’ opposition New Democracy party sign a written commitment to carry out unpopular austerity measures as part of the debt-relief plan for Greece approved last month. Samaras balked at a written statement, calling it an insult to “national dignity” and insisting his verbal assent to the plan should be sufficient.

European finance ministers are waiting for the formation of a new government in Greece before deciding whether to grant the country a crucial $11 billion loan installment.

Meanwhile, London police are bracing for a student protest over British government austerity measures and increased university fees. Organizers expect at least 10,000 marchers to participate in the Wednesday demonstration.