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Tsipras Resigns, Paving Way for Snap Greek Election

  • VOA News

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is received by Greece's President Prokopis Pavlopoulios (unseen) in Athens, Greece, Aug. 20, 2015.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is received by Greece's President Prokopis Pavlopoulios (unseen) in Athens, Greece, Aug. 20, 2015.

With a new bailout in hand, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras abruptly resigned Thursday, calling for a snap election on September 20, just seven months after taking office.

"I want to submit to the Greek people everything I have done so that they can decide once more," Tsipras told his countrymen in a televised address.

The resignation of the radical leftist Tsipras came in the face of a revolt among lawmakers from his ruling Syriza party, angered that he had failed to live up to his political campaign promises to end the austerity measures international creditors had forced Athens to accept in exchange for more bailout money.

Effectively, Tsipras is testing whether Greek voters will hand him more seats in parliament to stay in power, with fewer opposition lawmakers.

After months of contentious negotiations with Greece's creditors -- its European neighbors, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund -- Tsipras agreed to more tax increases and pension cuts. It is something he said he would not do, but did, to win approval of a new $95 billion bailout, with the support of opposition lawmakers.

It is debt-wracked Greece's third bailout in five years.

The left wing party came to power in snap parliamentary elections last January after campaigning on an anti-austerity platform and promising to renegotiate the terms of Greece's massive international bailouts.

Earlier Thursday, Greece repaid $3.5 billion to the European Central Bank, just hours after European officials disbursed funding from the European Stability Mechanism that will help Athens stay afloat and pay down its debt.

On Wednesday, German lawmakers voted to approve the $95 billion bailout package. As the biggest contributor to the Athens bailout, the German parliament had to approve the deal before it could proceed.

Last Friday, eurozone finance ministers approved the first $29 billion payment of the bailout deal for Greece after the Greek parliament approved the package earlier that day.

The eurozone decision saved Greece from default and kept it from being ousted from Europe's 19-nation euro currency bloc.

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