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Greece MPs clash ahead of key bailout deal

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london_greece_rally_3Greek members of parliament are voting on a new bailout agreement, after debating through the night. The proposed deal involves tax rises and spending cuts in return for a third international bailout of about €85 billion.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said he is confident he will win the vote, but some senior members of his Syriza party are defying the government.

The debate itself was preceded by hours of often angry exchanges in parliament.

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Tsipras needs MPs to vote for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to be adopted before eurozone ministers can endorse the draft deal worth about €85bn.

The talks continued throughout the night into Friday morning. The eurozone ministers meet later on Friday to discuss whether to grant Greece the bailout money.

The next crunch deadline for Greece is then 20 August, when it must repay about €3.2bn to the European Central Bank (ECB).

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Tempers flared during the overnight debate, with the leader of conservative opposition party New Democracy accusing Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos of making "provocative" comments.

Vangelis Meimarakis warned Tsakalotos not to take his party's support for the bailout for granted.

"If you want to provoke us - and for us to vote for it - well, you can't have it both ways," he said.

In two prior votes on bailout reforms, Tsipras faced rebellions from his own party, with more than 30 of Syriza's 149 MPs refusing to approve the latest tax increases, pension cuts and market reforms.

On Thursday (13 August°, the bill was argued over in committee discussions and procedural wrangling for about nine hours, and the plenary debate did not start until well after midnight.

The leader of Syriza's far-left faction, former energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis called for a new movement to fight the deal.

The government said he had clearly decided "to choose a different path from that of the government and Syriza".

It has defended the controversial new programme as tough but essential if the country is to avoid financial collapse.

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