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By Vittorio Hernandez
The Greek Parliament passed on Thursday legislation that enables the austerity measures approved the day before, which is expected to lead to the release of the second tranche of bailout funds for the financially challenged nation.
Like the Wednesday vote, 155 Greek MPs voted in favor of the second austerity law while 136 voted against the measure. Before the $28 billion (EUR 40 billion) measure was passed, the MPs engaged in a heated debate.
Public protests over the austerity measures continued at Syntagma Square while legislators were deliberating the second vote. Rioters armed with sticks and stones fought with Athens police, who retaliated with tear gas and stun grenades.
Amid news of the second bill's approval, German officials said the country's banks are prepared to help Athens avoid a default and recover from its financial woes. Germany is the largest holder of Greek debt.
The International Monetary Fund said it expects to release Greece's next round of bailout during coming negotiations. The European Union likewise said it expects to approve the release of the second tranche of the Greek bailout during the eurozone finance ministers' summit in Brussels on Sunday.
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