NICOSIA – The future of the government’s controversial privatisation bill which may decide whether Cyprus receives the third tranche of bailout money hung in the balance on Thursday as MPs prepared for the crucial vote.
Hundreds of police have been deployed outside parliament, erecting barricades in a bid to avert the ugly scenes of Monday when angry demonstrators threw firecrackers and empty bottles at police.
Thousands of semi government employees will besiege parliament to vent their opposition to the bill which, in its first stage, covers the Electricity Authority, the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority and the Ports Authority.
It remains unclear whether the government can command a majority on the vote, leaving Cyprus’ bailout agreement with the Troika in jeopardy.
Earlier on Thursday coalition partner Diko withdrew from the government in protest over the president’s handling of the Cyprus issue.
The party, which has eight seats, has still not announced how it will vote.
Disy has 20 seats and Evroko’s one MP will vote in favour. Akel (19), Edek (5), the Greens (1) and Citizens Alliance (1) will vote against, but they too do not have a majority.
Amendments submitted by Diko – which has eight MPs -- to better protect workers’ rights are understood not to have been accepted by the government or the Troika.
The deadline for approval of the bill is March 5.
The eurogroup will meet on March 10 to approve over €200 million in bailout cash.