The political crisis in Greece is deepening with a 24-hour general strike over welfare reforms. Police fear the stoppage, which is expected to bring the country to a standstill, could fuel further violence.
Meanwhile, the Socialist opposition leader George Papendreou has called on the Greek prime minister to stand down. Papandreou accused Prime Minister Caramanlis of heading a government which is unable to protect its citizens, which can’t handle crises and which has lost the confidence of the people.
Meeting the Greek President yesterday, Caramanlis whose conservative party has a parliamentary majority of just one seat, called for unity and said rioters would not be shown any leniency. He said that all political parties must unite on this issue.
Caramanlis said he blamed what he called extreme elements for taking advantage of the situation to engage in vandalism. He pledged to compensate damaged businesses. Observers say a state of emergency may be imposed in Greece, giving the authorities special powers to clear the streets.
Meanwhile, the funeral has taken place of Alexandros Grigoropoulos, 15, whose death sparked days of rioting. Greek police say the youth was hit by a ricochet from a warning shot aimed at demonstrators. But witnesses insist police fired directly at the young man. Two officers are being held in custody.