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Greek former PM calls for national consensus over debt

(Xinhua)

16:05, January 14, 2012

ATHENS, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- Greek former Prime Minister George Papandreou renewed on Friday a plea for national consensus to overcome the debt crisis that threatens Greece with default, as he accelerated the process for the election of his successor to the socialist party leadership.

"All political and social forces need to support the efforts undertaken by the interim coalition government of Lucas Papademos," said Papandreou during a meeting with Greek President Karolos Papoulias.

During a subsequent socialist PASOK party meeting, the former Premier reaffirmed his intention to step down from the top post and not contest for premiership in the next early general elections expected to be held in spring, making way for a speedier vote on his successor.

According to Greek media reports, under heavy pressure from contenders, he suggested party elections to be held shortly after Greece reaches an agreement on the write down of part of its state debt and before general polls.

Two weeks ago, Papandreou had suggested that he should remain president of PASOK until June and party members elect someone else to run for the premiership, arguing that party politics should not destabilize the three-party interim administration PASOK supports.

A final timetable on the process could be agreed during a wider party meeting over the weekend.

But meanwhile, the timing of general elections is put in question due to delays in the Greek debt swap negotiations with private sector bondholders under the October 26 eurozone agreement for the Private Sector Involvement (PSI) in efforts to ease the Greek state debt.

In early November, when Papandreou resigned from the premiership, making way for the formation of the transitional government amidst heavy criticism for the way he handled the debt crisis since 2009, it was agreed a snap general elections would be staged on February 19, after the conclusion of PSI talks.

Greece managed to stay afloat over the past two years with bailout loans by EU and International Monetary Fund in exchange of austerity measures and reform policies to slash deficits and restore growth.

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