13 Dec 2008

Greek PM rejects election calls

7:02 am on 13 December 2008

Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has rejected calls for an early general election after a week of violent unrest over a fatal police shooting.

At an EU summit in Brussels, he said that the country needed a steady hand at a time of economic crisis.

Masked rioters have again confronted police in central Athens, throwing stones and petrol bombs.

The riots were sparked by the killing of a teenager last Saturday.

One policeman has been charged with the murder of Alexandros Grigoropoulos, 15, and a second has been charged with being an accomplice.

The officer who fired the shot says the fatal wound came from a ricocheting bullet.

Mr Karamanlis, whose party has a majority of one seat in parliament, said that steering the country to safety out of economic woes was his priority.

Socialist opposition leader George Papandreou, has called for an early election on the grounds that public confidence in the government has been shaken by the riots.

On Friday, demonstrators hurled stones and petrol bombs at riot police near the Greek parliament before being dispersed by police with tear gas.