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Papandreou spring surprise cabinet reshuffle

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6 Sep 2010

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has reshuffled his cabinet but left the key post of finance minister unchanged.

The reshuffle was announced late last night, less than a year since the Papandreou government came to power.

The Greek government has retained its finance minister but changed other key officials involved in the effort to reform the country's troubled economy.

Under the changes announced at 1:30 a.m Athens time, George Papaconstantinou remains Finance minister, but the ministers of Development, Labour and Health have been replaced.

Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos has retainrd his post, while outgoing Interior Minister Yannis Ragoussis has been named as Minister of State with responsibility for the better coordination of the government.

Harris Pampoukis gets the portfolio of Foreign Investments, former Deputy Foreign Minister has taken over from George Papandreou as Foreign Minister and Louka Katseli has been replaced in the revamped Ministry of Regional Development and Competitiveness by the former Minister for Citizen Protection Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis.

Katseli takes over from Andreas Loverdos as the new Labor and Social security minister as Loverdos takes responsibility for Health and Social Solidarity. Outgoing Health Minister Marilisa Xenoyannakopoulou has been appointed as Deputy Foreign Minister responsible for European Affairs.

Secretary of PASOK's parliamentary group Christos Papoutsis is named as new Minister for Citizen Protection and Giannis Diamantidis as head of the new formed Ministry of Sea Transportation, Islands and Fishing.

The reshuffle also has a Greek Australian connection as former Victorian ALP Deputy Leader, Dimitri Dollis, has been appointed as one of two Deputy Foreign Ministers.

A number of Minister have retained their existing ministries.

Pavlos Geroulanos remains as Culture and Tourism minister, Evangelos Venizelos as Defence minister, Dimitris Reppas as Infrastructure minister, Anna Diamantopoulou as Education minister and Tina Birbili as Environment protection and climate change minister and Harris Kastanidis as Justice, Transparency and Human Rights minister.

Kostas Skandalidis will be the new head of Agriculture Ministry, replacing Katerina Batzeli who is the most prominent minister to be left out of the new cabinet.

"It took just 11 months and one long night ... for the Prime Minister to admit his government's failure," said main conservative opposition New Democracy party spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos.

Sources: BBC News, Xinhua, Associated Press, Reuters

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