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Greece to hand reins to first woman president

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Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou. Photo: Eurokinissi/ Vassilis Rebapis

Greece on Friday prepared to swear in the first woman president in its history as the country grapples with over a hundred coronavirus cases.

Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou, a 63-year-old senior judge, will become the new Greek head of state for a five-year term.

She will take her oath in parliament, lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier — Greece’s foremost military monument — and go to the presidential mansion for a handover ceremony with outgoing president Prokopis Pavlopoulos, parliament said.

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Sakellaropoulou was elected by parliament in January by 261 out of 300 lawmakers, one of the broadest cross-party majorities in Greek history.

She has set out her priorities as tackling the economic crisis, climate change and mass migration.

The new president was until now the head of Greece’s top administrative court, the Council of State.

The daughter of a Supreme Court judge, Sakellaropoulou completed postgraduate studies at Paris’s Sorbonne University.

She was the first woman to lead the Council of State.

Although the president is nominally the head of the Greek state and commander-in-chief, the post is largely ceremonial.

Greek presidents confirm governments and laws and technically have the power to declare war — but only in conjunction with the government.

Greece has so far announced 117 cases of coronavirus, one of whom died on Thursday after ten days in the hospital.

Three people are in intensive care and the government has shut down schools and universities, courts, cinemas, gyms and other indoor public gathering areas for two weeks in an effort to curb the outbreak.

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