Greek opposition leader calls on Papandreou to resign

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The head of Greece's centre-right opposition, Antonis Samaras Thursday called on embattled Prime Minister George Papandreou to step down, reiterating an appeal for early elections.

"I told Papandreou to resign and head towards the formation of a transition government ... to push towards early elections," Samaras said amid rowdy scenes ahead of a crunch confidence vote in parliament expected on Friday.

Samaras accused Papandreou of "blackmail, lying and clinging onto power."

"Mr Papandreou will not resign but he must resign to hand over power to the people," he said.

The key confidence vote, expected to occur around midnight local time (2200 GMT) on Friday, could prompt the fall of the government and send the eurozone into fresh turmoil.

With political allies deserting him since he sparked turbulence on the markets with his shock referendum call earlier in the week, Papandreou is far from guaranteed to survive the confidence vote.

Earlier Thursday, he called for unity within his party, saying that passing the vote was the only way to ensure Greece could implement the terms of the EU bailout plan as demanded by heavyweights France and Germany.

"The confidence vote is particularly important and guarantees that decisions taken by the government can proceed," said Papandreou.

He also appealed for "stability" in his parliamentary group amid a rebellion in the ranks.

© 2011 AFP

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