A junior minister in the new Greek government stepped down less than 24 hours after being appointed. Outrage had erupted on Wednesday over anti-Semitic and homophobic remarks attributed to him in the past.
Hours after starting his new job, a junior minister in Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' left-wing government resigned late Wednesday over messages posted on his Twitter account, which were considered racist and anti-Semitic. Dimitris Kammenos submitted his resignation hours after Tsipras' new Cabinet was sworn in.
Kammenos is a lawmaker from the nationalist Independent Greeks party, a small party that had joined the new coalition government after a general election was held in Greece on Sunday. He was one of five members of the right-wing party named to the government by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, which was also the junior party in his last administration.
Racism, homophobia and conspiracy theories
In the new Cabinet, Kammenos was named junior infrastructure minister yesterday, but the public remembered how he had sparked uproar earlier this year by comparing, via Twitter, the EU to Auschwitz.
He was also accused of peddling a conspiracy theory, claiming that 2,500 Jews employed in New York's World Trade Centre "skipped work" on the day of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
In June, the To Vima weekly had also noted that Kammenos had mocked the Athens gay pride parade as "pathetic."
Hackings and lies
As unease over the appointment grew yesterday, Dimitris Kammenos issued a statement "denouncing racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism" and claiming that his social media accounts were managed by associates, not by himself, and that they have been repeatedly hacked.
"Most of (these postings) are distortions of the truth and have been carefully forged," he claimed.
However by late Wednesday the 49-year-old had stepped down, saying it was in the "national interest" and that he wanted to allow the "proper functioning of government."
Kammenos's Twitter page was not operational Wednesday. A photo posted on his personal website showed him standing to attention before the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens, Greece's most revered military monument.
His resignation came as an embarrassing start for Tsipras, who had won the election surprisingly comfortably but now faces the challenge of implementing the harsh terms of a third international bailout.
ss/bw (AFP, AP)