8 Nov 2011

Greek leaders scramble to form unity govt

9:31 am on 8 November 2011

Politicians in Greece are working to confirm the make-up of a new national unity government and decide who will head the administration.

The country is due to name a new leader and cabinet after talks between outgoing Prime Minister George Papandreou and conservative opposition leader Antonis Samaras.

Mr Papandreou has agreed to step down as part of a deal to save the country from bankruptcy.

The two main parties have agreed on 19 February as the date for early elections demanded by Mr Samaras in exchange for his party's backing of a huge European bailout plan to save the eurozone member from bankruptcy.

Mr Papandreou has held talks with European Union leaders on his efforts to form a coalition government.

A statement says German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised his efforts to resolve the political stalemate in Greece.

Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos says the unity government will be committed to imposing the austerity programme required to receive the international loans.

European Union finance ministers are also preparing for a meeting to discuss the situation in Greece and mechanisms for expanding the eurozone bailout fund.

The latest turmoil began with Mr Papandreou's shock announcement a week ago that Greece would hold a referendum on the massive European rescue deal.

The move stunned fellow European leaders and Mr Papandreou hastily retracted the proposal.