UPDATE 2-Cracks appear in Greek government as Tsipras walks tightrope

Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:32am EST
 
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* Greek extension marks start of four-month ordeal

* Far-left minister defies govt stance on privatisations

* Syriza lawmakers say time to show public it can govern

* Detailing reform plan risks rifts within Syriza (Recasts)

By Deepa Babington and Angeliki Koutantou

ATHENS, Feb 25 (Reuters) - A prominent Greek minister defied his government's pledge to press on with some state asset sales, revealing the first open dissent within Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's coalition and highlighting the tightrope that the leftist premier must walk.

After weeks of euphoric declarations that Greece's bailout and accompanying austerity were "dead", Tsipras was forced to capitulate under threat of national bankruptcy last week and accept another four months of the EU/IMF programme.

The 40-year-old untested Greek leader has nevertheless sought to play the deal with the euro zone as a victory and has so far avoided a major backlash or protests.

But the first crack in his left-right coalition appeared on Wednesday when Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis said Athens would scrap the privatisation of power producer PPC and power grid operator ADMIE, a day after Greece wrote to lenders promising not to halt sales that are underway.   Continued...