Greek parliament approves second bailout loan contract

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ATHENS. March 21. KAZINFORM The Greek parliament approved early Wednesday the terms of a second international bailout loan contract aiming to avoid a catastrophic Greek bankruptcy during a televised vote, amid a new wave of anti-austerity protests, Xinhua said.

The 130-billion-euro (172 billion U.S. dollars) rescue loan package contract cleared the 300-member strong assembly in the roll call vote with the support of the two parties that back the interim government of Lucas Papademos since November, the socialists of PASOK and the conservatives of New Democracy.

"A total of 213 deputies voted in favor and 79 MPs voted against out of a total 292 present members of parliament," Deputy House Speaker Grigoris Niotis announced at the end of the procedure, which was broadcast live by the parliament's television channel.

Without the bailout deal Greece reached with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund creditors recently - the second since 2010 - pledging further tough austerity and reform measures in exchange, the debt-ridden country could default this March unable to repay a bond that expired on Tuesday or meet other urgent financing needs.

But the fresh set of cuts on wages, pensions, lay-offs in the public sector and structural reforms, after waves of similar policies in the past two years that have reduced the income of the average household and fueled unemployment and recession, has been met with strong objections by critics inside and outside the parliament.

While the debate was winding up on Tuesday evening, the Greek Communist Party staged rallies at Syntagma Square in front of the parliament building and across the country. Some 10,000 protesters waved banners and chanted slogans like "We say no to the sale off of Greece and Greek people" or "We do not accept a return to medieval times for labor rights."

Labor unions, in the meantime, continued a string of protests and strikes over austerity. Greek seamen held a 48-hour strike since Monday that disrupted maritime transport, lawyers walked off courts once again, while public hospital personnel protested spending cuts and reforms.

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