Greek parliament approves austerity plans

Government backed over latest cuts package despite more protests and violent clashes on the streets of Athens.

The Greek parliament has approved government plans for further austerity measures, paving the way for the debt-crippled country to receive more bailout loans from international creditors.

George Papandreou, the prime minister, welcomed Thursday’s vote in a letter read to parliament after a second day of violent clashes in the capital Athens and mass protests against the cuts.

At least one person was reported killed as protesters set off fire bombs and threw stones outside parliament as politicians gathered to vote on the bill.

Greek workers have staged a 48-hour strike against the proposed measures, shutting down many public offices and bringing public transport and flights to a halt.

In Pictures

Tear gas choked the air in Athens’ central Syntagma Square as riot police tried to separate more than 50,000 peaceful protesters from smaller groups apparently intent on causing trouble.

The scene degenerated into running battles between groups of protesters fighting each other and between heavily armed police and masked rioters.

One central Athens hospital said it had treated 74 people injured in the clashes. Some of the injured were covered in blood from head wounds.

Greece’s main creditors, the International Monetary Fund and the European Union, had demanded that Greece pass the extra austerity measures before they gave it more funds from a €110bn bailout loan.

Greece had said it would run out of money by mid-November without the next €8bn installment.

The new austerity measures will put 30,000 public servants on reduced pay and suspend collective labour contracts.

Protesters and police also clashed outside the parliament on Wednesday, with more than 7,000 police assigned to Athens to control of the demonstrations.

“Protesters wanted it to be their day, to get their message across: ‘No to more swingeing cuts! No to a whole different life ahead!’ Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons reported.

Greece, a member of the eurozone, is trapped in the third year of deep recession and strangled by a public debt amounting to 162 per cent of gross domestic product, which few now believe can be paid back.

Many analysts fear the collapse of the country’s economy could have catastrophic implications for the entire global economy, with many European banks considered to be highly exposed to a possible default by Greece on government bonds.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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