Sat, Aug 29, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Greece’s top judge Thanou takes over as caretaker PM

COUNTRY IN CRISIS:Vassiliki Thanou is to organize early elections set for next month, but she may also have to handle the wave of Syrian migrants

AFP, ATHENS

Greece’s top judge on Thursday became the country’s first female prime minister, taking over a caretaker administration to organize early elections next month, the fifth in the crisis-hit country in six years.

Vassiliki Thanou, the 65-year-old head of the Greek Supreme Court, took her oath of office in a brief ceremony at the presidential mansion.

Dressed entirely in white, the diminutive judge then told outgoing Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras that her administration was likely to face additional challenges, such as the migrant wave from Syria.

“As the circumstances evolve, I feel this government will be called upon to face [other] critical issues, such as migration,” she said.

Tsipras said Greece was likely to have a discussion concerning relief on its soaring debt sooner than expected.

“Until now we knew that the discussion on debt reduction would be held by the end of the year,” Tsipras said.

“Today we learned from Eurozone stability mechanism managing director [Klaus] Regling this will now be sooner, perhaps in October,” he said.

Mother-of-three Thanou has taken a hard stance on austerity measures, having criticized as unconstitutional an unpopular property tax collected through electricity bills.

In February, she fired off an emotional letter to European Commission Chairman Jean-Claude Juncker, protesting that austerity cuts were “annihilating” the Greek people.

“The people are not responsible for the waste of public money by past governments and for mistakes in tax policy,” she wrote, adding that the austerity measures “have failed as the recession continues as the rich continue to evade taxes.”

Thanou, who holds a degree in European law from France’s Sorbonne university, was to name her administration yesterday, the president’s office said.

The date for Greece’s general election is to be officially announced by the end of the week, but it is likely to be scheduled for Sept. 20.

Tsipras has ruled out forming a national unity government should he fail to win a outright majority in the snap elections triggered after he resigned last week.

Tsipras called for the fresh vote on Thursday last week after suffering a major rebellion in his hard-left SYRIZA party over Greece’s huge new international bailout, its third in five years.

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