* Samaras says Greece will be excluded under leftists’ plans
* Syriza welcomes ECB decision as rebuttal to fear-mongers (Adds details, Syriza response)
ATHENS, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his leftist rivals both hailed a new European Central Bank government bond buying programme but immediately attacked each other over whether Athens would be excluded from it.
The ECB programme will pump hundreds of billions of new money into a sagging euro zone economy.
Countries like Greece will be eligible as long as they are under EU/IMF bailout programmes but the eligibility is suspended until any pending review is completed with a positive outcome.
That has raised the possibility of Greece being left out if the radical leftist Syriza party takes power in Sunday’s general election. The party has said it will not complete the current review and wants to renegotiate debt while cancelling austerity.
Syriza however, welcomed the ECB decision, saying it “refuted all those who have sown fear and panic”.
“It’s an important decision that the next Greek government will take advantage to the benefit of the country,” the party said in a statement.
Interrupting campaigning on Thursday, Samaras made a televised statement to stress that Greece risked exclusion from the programme because of Syriza’s stance against the EU/IMF bailout keeping the country afloat.
“Will Greece receive a portion of a gigantic, direct strengthening of liquidity and growth in the economy or are we going to lose this unique opportunity?” Samaras said.
Opinion polls show Syriza is set to win Sunday’s election, the prospect of which has unnerved financial markets. The party’s anti-bailout rhetoric has raised fears that Greece will go off the path of reforms and clash with lenders, unleashing a new financial crisis.
Reporting by Costas Pitas and Angeliki Koutantou, editing by Deepa Babington and Angus MacSwan