• Short Summary

    Five years ago, on April 21st 1967, a junta of leading military figures took power in Greece.

  • Description

    Five years ago, on April 21st 1967, a junta of leading military figures took power in Greece.

    The coup was unopposed. Tanks and troops moved into Athens end major cities early in the morning, and at 6 a.m. a broadcast announced the takeover. A dawn to dusk curfew was imposed, bank a???ounts frozen, press activities curtailed, and communications with the outside world cut off.

    A National Government was formed almost immediately, with a Cabinet headed by Constantine Kollias and consisting of fourteen civilians, four Senior Army officers and one retired naval officer.

    An abortive counter-coup by the 26-year-old King -- lasting approximately seven hours -- in the early hours of December 13th 1967 -- led to his flight to Rome with his family, and the appointment of Lieut-General Efstratios Zoitakis as Regent. The same day it was announced that Mr. Papadopoulos had taken over as Prime Minister from Constantine Kollias.

    Greece had laboured under a series of political upheavals since the end of the last war, and the crises had risen to a climax during the two years immediately preceding the coup. The resignation of George Papandreou in July 1965, after conflicts with the King concerning the left-wing 'Aspida ' organisation, resulted in the rapid formation and consequent resignation of five Cabinets. The last resigned after the arrest of Prime Minister Kanellopoulos in April 1967 by the military regime.

    A Referendum voted almost one hundred percent in favour of a new draft Constitution in September 1968, and the Constitution -- its twelve Articles temporarily suspended - came into force two months later. The first decree issued by its authority gave more powers to Papadopoulos.

    Demonstrations throughout Europe protested against the allegedly totalitarian nature of the Greek regime, and Greece withdrew from the Council of Europe in December 1969, after formal complaints had been lodged by Holland and three Scandinavian countries.

    Three out of the twelve suspended Articles in the new Constitution were restored in April 1969, including the rights of assembly and 'sanctity of home'. Many political prisoners were released. On January 1972 martial law was lifted throughout Greece except for the three main urban centres of Athens, Piraeus and Salonika.

    Last month Prime Minister Papadopoulos -- having already taken over the portfolios of Foreign Affairs and Defence -- further consolidated his power by succeeding General Zoitakis as Regent.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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