Greek police fired teargas and water cannons outside Athens parliament as tens of thousands hold austerity protest

Greek protesters throw Molotov cocktails at riot police

Violent scenes outside Athens parliament as tens of thousands hold ...



ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek police fired teargas and water cannons to disperse thousands of protesters who flooded into the main square before parliament on Wednesday in a massive show of anger against lawmakers due to narrowly pass an austerity package.

The violence erupted as a handful of protesters tried to break through a barricade to enter parliament, where Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is expected to barely eke out a win for the belt-tightening law despite opposition from a coalition partner.

But the parliamentary session was briefly interrupted when parliament workers went on strike and opposition lawmakers walked out of the chamber in protest.




Protesters hold a banner reading
Protesters hold a banner reading "Let the capitalists pay for the crisis" during a demo in front of the parliament in Athens tonight. Photograph: Petros Giannakouris/AP

Greek finance minister defends austerity bill

Back inside the parliament, finance minister Yannis Stournaras has defended the €13.5bn austerity package which MPs must vote on tonight.

In the face for calls for his resignation (see 6.14pm), Stournaras insisted that Greece had no choice but to swallow yet more austerity.

It's a familiar tale -- and one which the fantastic Diane Shugart tweeted. Here are some highlights:

Stournaras went on to argue that Greece could build a modernised, more efficient economy, on the back of its mineral resources and tourist sector -- assets which other countries can only envy, he argued.

He continued:

And in conclusion, Greece's finance minister urged MPs to set aside their concerns and support the austerity bill, to guarantee the "hope, prospects, and the continuity" of Greece.

Reports of fresh clashes between police and demonstrators:

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