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Greek Premier Replaces Finance Minister

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TEHRAN, June 18 (ICANA) – Embattled Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has replaced his finance minister in a cabinet reshuffle aimed at drumming up support for the austerity measures.
Saturday, June 18, 2011 10:26:35 PM
Greek Premier Replaces Finance Minister

Evangelos Venizelos, considered Papandreou's main internal Socialist rival, took the helm on Friday to replace George Papaconstantinou, who was widely unpopular for imposing budget cuts and tax hikes as part of last year's 110-billion-euro international bailout deal, AP reported.

The 57-year-old Venizelos was joined by Administrative Reform Minister Dimitris Reppas, Development Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis, Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou, Health Minister Andreas Loverdos and Papaconstantinou as the new Environmental Protection Minister.

The new cabinet was sworn in shortly after being named, and the new ministers headed straight into a cabinet meeting. A vote of confidence in parliament is due on Tuesday.

Greece's cabinet shake-up on Friday followed days of political chaos that threatened to bring down the government. The turmoil ranged from nationwide strikes and fruitless negotiations on the formation of a national unity government to calls from opposition parties for snap elections.

Prime Minister Papandreou has struggled to garner support for a crucial new package of EUR 28 billion (USD 39.5 billion) in spending cuts and tax hikes demanded by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

The package must be voted through parliament if the country is to continue receiving funds from its bailout.

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