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Icelanders protest govts handling of financial crisis

REYKJAVIK: More than a thousand Icelanders marched on parliament in the capital Reykjavik on Saturday (November 1) to protest against the prime minister and the central bank chief. According to police, the demonstrators numbered between 1,200- 2,000 people. People chanted calls for Prime Minister Geir Haarde and central bank head David Oddsson to resign. Some...

SAMAA | - Posted: Nov 2, 2008 | Last Updated: 12 years ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Nov 2, 2008 | Last Updated: 12 years ago
Icelanders protest govts handling of financial crisis

REYKJAVIK: More than a thousand Icelanders marched on parliament in the
capital Reykjavik on Saturday (November 1) to protest against the prime
minister and the central bank chief.
According to police, the demonstrators numbered between 1,200- 2,000
people.
People chanted calls for Prime Minister Geir Haarde and central bank
head David Oddsson to resign.
Some protesters also called for early elections to speed up EU
membership.
“We feel that the democracy needs to be more open, it has to be
separated, we have to be able to get non-political people in the institutions
of the country and that they are free to criticize the government though they
are maybe forced to support their policies, as it is now, everything is
politically controlled, and everybody is controlled from the same party, and
we see the result of this is ,,, you know,,,, a completely dysfunctional
central bank and it has been for a few years,” Birgir Thorarinsson, one
of the protest organisers, said.
Saturday's demonstration gathered people of different ages and
political backgrounds worried about what will happen.
Psychologist Petur Tyrfingsson who addressed the meeting after the
march called for a revival of the class struggle.
“We have to revive the class struggle the means of the class
struggle, the unions our political parties and so on and so on, who has been
practically inactive for the last 15-20 years. People are now discovering that
we need means to struggle, means to organise ourselves because this is the day
of the people. We have to do this ourselves and the politicians and others,
they won't notice the interest of the people and the will of the people unless
they activate themselves and organise themselves,” he said.
Haarde said recently the total cost of the country's banking crisis
could amount to 1.1 trillion Icelandic crowns (9.40 billion United States
dollars), or 85 per cent of 2007 gross domestic product.
The island nation's financial system has all but collapsed since the
country was forced to take over three of its biggest banks. Some fear the
economy will contract as much as 10 per cent next year.
Unlike countries such as Britain or the United States, Iceland has been
unable to bail out its banks due to the size of the financial sector in
relation to the country's GDP.
Haarde warned that Icelanders, who had enjoyed one of the highest
standards of living in the world, faced a period of painful adjustment.
The central bank this week as policy-makers ratcheted up interest rates
by a massive 6 percentage points to a record high 18 per cent.
The hike came at the behest of the International Monetary Fund, under a
preliminary deal that could result in its lending 2 billion U.S. dollars to
the nation of just 300,000 people.
Iceland is seeking 4 billion U.S. dollars more from, among others, its
Nordic neighbours and Russia.

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