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"Let the people decide" - Greece will hold referendum on bailout deal

The vote will take place on 5 July.

Europe Greece Bailout Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Source: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/PA

THE GREEK PEOPLE will be asked to vote on whether or not to accept a bailout deal with the country’s foreign creditors.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made the announcement in a televised address to the Greek people late on Friday night.

The people must decide, free of any blackmail…the referendum will take place on July 5.

The late-night announcement followed an emergency cabinet meeting.

Without an agreement on its international bailout, Greece faces the threat of running out of cash, defaulting on its loans and, possibly, leaving the euro currency.

In his statement on Greek network Skai TV, Tsipras added:

The Greek government has been asked to accept a proposal that places new, unbearable burdens on the Greek people.
Right now, we bear an historic responsibility concerning…the future of our country.And this responsibility obliges us to answer [bailout creditors'] ultimatum based on the sovereign will of the Greek people.

tsiprastv2 Greek PM Alexis Tsipras addressing the nation on Skai TV tonight. Source: Skai TV

The move radically raises the stakes in Greece’s confrontation with bailout creditors, whom Tsipras accused of demanding new pension cuts, sales tax hikes and labor market reforms.

Tsipras said an emergency session of Parliament later on Saturday would be called to ratify the decision.

The question will be acceptance or rejection of their proposal.

Earlier on Friday, Greece rejected its international creditors’ offer of a five-month, €12 billion extension of its bailout programme, arguing it was unacceptable.

The Troika – the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund – insist Greece must seal a deal this weekend to avoid an IMF default early next week.

However the Greek government argued the reforms demanded alongside the bailout extension would be recessionary and the funding insufficient.

Already, Greece’s Minister for Energy and Environment has called on voters to reject the bailout, according to the Associated Press.

Speaking after the announcement tonight, Panayiotis Lafazanis said Greeks will answer “with a resounding no” in the vote.

Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis later tweeted that Syriza had just given European democracy “a boost.”

Varafoukis said earlier that Greece had a “duty” to reach agreement Saturday with its international creditors.

Contains reporting by the Associated Press and AFP.

Read: Greece doesn’t want a piece of the troika’s latest offer>

Read: Joan Burton – Syriza has been “lecturing the rest of Europe”>

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Dan MacGuill

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