Riots as Greek parliament approves new debt deal
13/02/2012 - 07:23:12
Greek politicians approved harsh new austerity measures demanded by bailout creditors to save the debt-crippled nation from bankruptcy, after riots in Athens and other cities left stores looted and burned and more than 120 people hurt.
The historic vote paves the way for Greece’s European partners and the International Monetary Fund to release €170bn in new rescue loans, without which Greece would default on its mountain of debt next month and likely leave the eurozone – a scenario that would further unsettle global markets.
Politicians voted 199-74 in favour of the cutbacks, despite strong dissent among the two main coalition members.
In response, the Socialists and conservatives expelled 22 and 21 MPs, respectively, reducing their majority in the 300-seat parliament from 236 to 193.
Violence was also reported in six other cities, the worst in central Volos where the town hall and a tax office were damaged by fire, police said.
Clashes erupted after more than 100,000 protesters marched to the parliament to rally against the drastic cuts, which will axe one in five civil service jobs and slash the minimum wage by more than a fifth.
At least 45 businesses were damaged by fire, including several historic buildings, cinemas, banks and a cafeteria, in the worst riot damage in Athens in years.
Fifty police officers were injured and at least 70 protesters were taken to hospital. Sixty-seven suspected rioters were arrested and a further 70 detained.
Premier Lucas Papademos urged calm.
“Vandalism and destruction have no place in a democracy and will not be tolerated,” Mr Papademos told Parliament just before the vote. “I call on the public to show calm. At these crucial times, we do not have the luxury of this type of protest. I think everyone is aware of how serious the situation is.”
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