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Greek referendum plan dropped

Greek presidential guards perform ceremonial duties Thursday in front of the Greek Parliament during a no-confidence debate by lawmakers in Athens. Greece’s embattled prime minister ignored calls for early elections.

Ap photo

ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s prime minister abandoned his explosive plan to put a European rescue deal to popular vote Thursday, keeping his government alive — but passionate squabbling in Athens left the country’s solvency in doubt and the eurozone in turmoil.

Prime Minister George Papandreou reversed course after a rebellion within his own Socialist party over the referendum, but ignored repeated calls to resign and call elections.

Chaos persisted in the country that coined the term: Papandreou faces a critical vote of confidence in his government today as the Socialist rebellion still simmers. And the main opposition conservatives were not placated, insisting on his resignation.

Meanwhile, Greece’s cost of borrowing ballooned, with the interest demanded by markets to buy Greek 10-year bonds exceeding 31 percent — compared to 2 percent for European powerhouse Germany.

Papandreou sparked a global crisis Monday when he announced he would put the latest European deal to cut Greece’s massive debts — a hard-fought accord that took months of negotiations — to a referendum. The idea horrified other EU nations, Greece’s creditors and financial markets as investors fretted over the prospect of Greece being forced into a disorderly default.

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