Greece appoints first female PM ahead of snap poll

Vassiliki Thanou, 65, stands during a swearing in ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Athens. (AP)

Greece's first female prime minister, a top judge, was sworn in on Thursday to head a caretaker government ahead of snap elections next month in the bailout-dependent country.

Supreme Court head Vassiliki Thanou, 65, was appointed after leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras resigned, seeking a stronger mandate to implement tough austerity measures demanded by Greece's creditors in return for a third bailout worth 86 billion euro ($97 billion).

Her main task will be to hold the reins until a new government emerges from the vote expected on September 20.

"But, given the circumstances ... I believe that this government will also have to handle crucial matters," Thanou said in her first public comments in office, singling out for mention Greece's immigration crisis.

Since January, the financially struggling country has received more than 160,000 mainly Syrian refugees and economic migrants - a record number - who arrive in boats from Turkey before heading to wealthier European countries.

Tsipras was forced to step down last week, barely seven months into his four-year term, following a rebellion in his radical left Syriza party over his agreement to the new income cuts and tax hikes.

Syriza hardliners were furious that Tsipras signed the deal with even harsher terms than those he had vowed to abolish when he was elected in January. The deal was approved with support from pro-European opposition parties, who now accuse him of rushing to call elections before voters are hit by the full force of the new tax measures.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48