The Latest: Clashes Break out at Athens Anti-Austerity March

Alexis Tsirpas

The latest on Greece's financial crisis (all times local):


9:15 p.m.

Clashes have broken out at an anti-austerity rally by thousands of protesters outside Parliament in Athens.

Riot police used pepper spray and tear gas Wednesday night to fight back youths in the crowd who were hurling Molotov cocktails and rocks at police.

Police said about 12,500 people were at the rally at Syntagma Square. The clashes broke out just as lawmakers were starting to debate an austerity bill that includes consumer tax increases and pension reforms.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who has faced strident opposition to the bill from his own radical left Syriza party, says it's the best possible deal he could get to prevent Greece from being forced out of Europe's joint euro currency.


8:50 p.m.

Thousands of anti-austerity demonstrators are marching through Athens for a rally outside of Parliament ahead of a debate and vote on a new austerity bill that Greece must pass before it can start negotiations with creditors on a third bailout.

Lawmakers are to vote on the tax increases and pension reforms — but the vote could be held after midnight Wednesday.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is facing strident opposition to the bill from his own radical left Syriza party, where members are furious at his backtracking on party promises to repeal austerity. Tsipras has insisted this was the best possible deal to prevent Greece from being forced out of Europe's joint euro currency.


8:30 p.m.

Greece's parliament speaker has called a meeting that is delaying a Parliament debate on austerity cuts demanded by creditors.

Parliament Speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou has called a chairmen's conference — a meeting of the speaker, her deputies and committee chairmen — pushing back the expected start of Wednesday night's austerity debate for more than two hours. Konstantopoulou had earlier urged lawmakers to try to obstruct or block the vote, describing it as the result of "blackmail" by international lenders.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is being openly defied by dissenters in his governing Syriza party who are urging him not to sign up for a third bailout.


7:50 p.m.

French legislators have approved the bailout deal meant to prevent Greece's economy from collapsing.

Speaking before the vote Wednesday in France's National Assembly, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the 85-billion-euro ($94 billion) bailout "is vital to give Greece the breathing room it needs to imagine a future that's not only about paying back its debt."

Valls said the eurozone is considering measures to help Greece, including lengthening the payback period on its debt or lowering the interest rate.


3:55 p.m.

The German government is arguing that one possible way to help Greece meet its financial obligations in coming days, before a full bailout program is established, is for the country to issue IOUs for domestic needs.

Finance Ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger said Wednesday that "we have included this element in the discussion" among eurozone nations on how to keep Greece afloat while talks proceed on the details of a full bailout deal. The talks are expected to last weeks.

Jaeger says that IOUs are just one of "various conceivable approaches."

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