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    Greece's Finance Minister Resigns to Lead Socialist Party

    Greece's Finance minister Evangelos Venizelos (file photo March 8, 2012)
    Greece's Finance minister Evangelos Venizelos (file photo March 8, 2012)

    Greece's Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos has resigned, one day after being elected to lead the Socialist party PASOK in the run-up to elections.

    Venizelos announced his resignation Monday after meeting with Greek President Karolos Papoulias.

    Venizelos officially replaced former Greek prime minister George Papandreou as head of the PASOK party on Monday.

    Greece has announced plans to hold early general elections in late April or early May to replace the interim coalition government of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos.

    Opinion polls show PASOK is badly trailing the conservative New Democracy party.

    Venizelos played a key role in recent months in negotiating a second bailout for Greece and new economic austerity measures. Earlier this month, the government cut wages and pensions, and eliminated thousands of government jobs to meet the demands of international lenders so that it could secure a new $172 billion bailout.

    That bailout marked the country's second rescue package in two years.

    Venizelos said at the time the debt relief would ease financial pressures on Greece and the 17-nation euro currency bloc that has struggled to control Europe's debt crisis.

    Some information for this report provided by AP, Reuters and AFP.

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