Greek PM Tsipras expected to reshuffle cabinet by Saturday: sources

November 4, 2016 10:27 AM EDT

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras waits to meet with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, at his office in Maximos Mansion in Athens, Greece, October 25, 2016. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis


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ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is expected to reshuffle his cabinet by Saturday, aiming to speed up the conclusion of a key bailout review and shore up his government's popularity ratings, senior government sources told Reuters on Friday.

Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, the key negotiator between Athens and its international lenders at the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, is expected to keep his post.

"It (the reshuffle) is likely to be announced today. The swearing-in ceremony will take place tomorrow," one of the officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Greece wants to wrap up a review on labor reforms and fiscal issues swiftly to qualify for more debt relief and for inclusion in the European Central Bank's bond buying program. This will help the country regain bond market access by 2018, when its current bailout program expires.

Tsipras may replace Energy Minister Panos Skourletis and Shipping Minister Thodoris Dritsas who have openly opposed privatizations, a sign that Athens wants to appease its creditors that have accused it of foot-dragging in selling state assets, a key term of its third bailout.

The interior and labor ministers are also expected to be replaced, another official said.

According to court officials, the premier has set up new stand-alone ministries to handle energy and the crucial issue of migration, as Europe struggles with its worst migrant crisis in decades and thousands are stranded in the cash-strapped country.

Tsipras was first elected in January 2015 promising to end years of austerity but reversed course six months later signing up to a new bailout, Greece's third aid program since the crisis broke out in 2010.

He was re-elected in September last year, but his popularity ratings have been dropping for months and his Syriza party has been trailing the conservative New Democracy party.

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Richard Balmforth)



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