Greek junior coalition partner rejects debt deal

Athens, July 14 (IANS) Greece’s junior coalition partner Panos Kammenos told media after a meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday that his right-wing Independent party cannot accept the debt deal sealed at the euro zone summit in Brussels, however it will continue to support the government.

The ambiguous remarks of Kammenos, who is also defence minister, increased confusion over the fate of the Leftist-led two-partite coalition amidst mounting reactions to the harsh terms of Greece’s third bailout since 2010.

“To this deal which brings entirely new elements…we can not agree… The prime minister faced a coup, a blackmail that the banking system would collapse and a haircut on deposits would be imposed. He could do nothing else faced with this dilemma,” Xinhua quoted Kammenos as saying.

Decisions on the Independent Greeks’ next steps will be made during the meeting of the party’s parliamentary group on Tuesday, he told reporters outside the premier’s office.

“We will continue together, the Greek people and the elected government, to fight for peoples’ rights,” Kammenos said, adding that his party would never participate in a “special cause” new ruling coalition along the main opposition conservative New Democracy party and the centrist River party, as scenarios in local media have suggested.

Media commentators in Athens interpreted his statement as leaning towards a “NO” or abstention in the vote on the deal and the first round of reforms which was expected to take place in parliament by Wednesday, as Tsipras has pledged to creditors.

A similar stance was expected by the “rebels” of Tsipras’ Radical Left SYRIZA party, according to political analysts in the Greek capital. Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis who leads a group of hardliners within SYRIZA and other party MPs who have turned down Monday’s debt agreement as “humiliating” for Greece, have indicated that they will vote against the package or abstain from the vote in the assembly.

According to sources within SYRIZA, until Monday evening Leftist cabinet ministers and legislators who object to the premier’s choices do not intend to submit resignations, but will let Tsipras take the initiative of a possible cabinet reshuffle and expulsions of MPs from the party’s parliamentary group in coming hours.

According to estimates by media and political analysts up to 40 lawmakers from SYRIZA’s 149-member strong parliamentary group could take a different path.

In any case, the debt deal and the measures are expected to pass the parliament with the support of the pro-euro opposition parties.

In addition to reactions from within the ruling coalition, trade unions and other anti-austerity and anti-bailout political parties have already launched a wave of protests and strikes against the debt agreement.

As Kammenos was holding talks with Tsipras on Monday, the umbrella union of civil servants ADEDY and the far-Left ANTARSYA party held in central Athens a rally against the third bailout. The Communist party has called for a similar demonstration on Wednesday, while the union of Greek pharmacists has called a first 24-hour nationwide strike on the same day.

Defending the Brussels agreement earlier on Monday the Greek leader admitted it was difficult to implement, but underlined that under the current circumstances it will help Greece stave off the imminent default and Grexit scenarios and pave the way to restoring stability and growth with creditors’ support.


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