Minister Kountoura says she'll support, remain in govt; expulsion from AN.EL parliamentary group

Monday, 14 January 2019 11:34

Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura, one of seven deputies of the right-wing Independent Greeks (AN.EL) that up until Sunday served as leftist SYRIZA's junior coalition partner, resurfaced on Monday morning to express her "crystal clear support" for the Tsipras government.

Essentially, Kountoura confirmed earlier predictions that she will break with AN.EL leader Panos Kammenos, who resigned on Sunday as the defense minister, and remain on the Cabinet. More importantly, she's expected give PM Alexis Tsipras a vote of confidence in Parliament this week.

By extension, Kountoura is also expected to vote in favor of the Prespa agreement when the latter is submitted to Parliament for ratification.

On his part, Kammenos took to his preferred method of communication - namely, his Twitter account - shortly after Kountoura's statement to announce the latter's expulsion from the party's Parliamentary group.

"Ms. Kountoura, with an official announcement, decided to exchange her vote and the name Macedonia for a Cabinet post. I am expelling her from AN.EL's parliamentary group," Kammenos "Tweeted".  

Earlier, Kountoura was quoted as saying that "...I want to make it clear that I will not negotiate my right to vote based on my conscience," in a dispatch disseminated by Greece's state-run news agency.

She avoided any comment over the past few days, with her ministry's press office issuing a release over the weekend that listed her contacts in Toronto with tour agency and film company representatives. On Monday, Kountoura said she was headed to China for a previously scheduled trip.  

Kountoura, a one-time fashion and makeup model associated with Shishedo, and subsequently as a magazine publisher in Athens, left center-right New Democracy party (ND) to run for office with Kammenos' populist and anti-austerity AN.EL party.


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