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Mitsotakis sworn in, picks Cabinet

Reuters

Newly appointed Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, left, shakes hands with outgoing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras after their meeting at the Maximos Mansion in Athens on Monday.

ReutersATHENS (Reuters) — Conservative politician Kyriakos Mitsotakis took office as Greece’s new prime minister and named his Cabinet on Monday, after storming to victory on a pledge to create jobs and lure investment to the economically stricken nation.

Mitsotakis’s New Democracy party won an outright majority with 158 seats in the 300-seat legislature. His pledges for more investments, well-paid jobs and fewer taxes won over Greeks worn out by years of EU-prescribed austerity and the euro zone’s highest unemployment.

“Today we get started on the hard work. I have absolute confidence in our abilities to rise to the occasion,” Mitsotakis said after he was sworn in at a ceremony officiated by Greek Orthodox clergy at the presidential palace in Athens.

He was later welcomed by outgoing premier Alexis Tsipras, a leftist who steered Greece out of bailouts, but was blamed for botching negotiations with international lenders and saddling the nation with more debt after he took over in 2015.

Mitsotakis appointed economist Christos Staikouras as his government’s finance minister. Staikouras, 46, was New Democracy’s coordinator of economic affairs and a lawmaker since 2007.

He served as deputy finance minister from 2012 to 2015, under a previous conservative-led government.

Mitsotakis also named lawyer Nikos Dendias to head the foreign ministry. Dendias, 60, has served as justice and defense minister in previous conservative governments.

Greeks hope the new government can make the economy work better after the country emerged from the close surveillance of its international lenders last year. The economy is now growing at a moderate clip, expanding by 1.3 percent on an annual basis in the first quarter.

The change of guard was greeted with profit-taking on the Athens stock exchange after a strong rally in previous days. The blue chip share index shed 2.15 percent, led by bank shares.

“It’s mostly a ‘buy the rumor, sell the news’ session. Stocks had a strong run, anticipating the election result. Short-term traders are now closing positions, locking in profits,” said investment adviser Theodore Mouratidis.Speech

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