The Greek Prime Minister quits after seven months in office, paving the way for a snap election that he hopes will strengthen his hold on power. Yiming Woo reports.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras goes to the presidential office to formally resign. He's asking for the earliest possible election date. Tsipras is hoping to crush a rebellion in his party and seal public support for the bailout programme. He was faced with the collapse of the Greek financial system and accepted creditors' demands for austerity and economic reforms -- the very policies he promised to scrap when he was elected in January. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) GREEK PRIME MINISTER, ALEXIS TSIPRAS, SAYING: "My fellow Greeks I leave it up to your judgement, and my conscience is clear. I am proud of the battle my government and I have fought. We fought to stay true to our promises. We negotiated hard and insistently, for a very long time, we held out against pressures and blackmail. It's true, we reached the limit. But we made the Greek issue into an international issue." Although a snap poll was expected, Tsipras was forced to move quickly after nearly a third of his party's lawmakers refused to back the bailout programme last week. The leader of the main opposition, Vangelis Meimarakis, criticised the Prime Minister's resignation. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) MAIN OPPOSITION NEW DEMOCRACY LEADER, EVANGELOS MEIMARAKIS, SAYING: "It is not ethically or politically correct towards our partners to wait for approvals from their parliaments, get the disbursement and then immediately resign, not for any serious reason, but for a reason that many say is an inter-party reason, and, for everybody to comprehend, a problem that could have been solved within a party congress." Tsipras nevertheless remains popular among his supporters for trying to stand up to the foreign creditors and is widely expected to return to power. Government officials say they'll aim to hold the election on September 20th.