GREECE’s prime minister call for a referendum on the outcome of bailout talks with international creditors led anxious Greeks to queue outside banks to withdraw cash from ATMs.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced the surprise move in a televised address early Saturday, saying the referendum will take place July 5.
He said an emergency session of parliament later Saturday would be called to ratify the decision.
The prime minister made the call hours after the latest round of negotiations with European and IMF creditors failed to produce an agreement.
Meanwhile, anxiety over the country’s future swelled Saturday, with people queuing outside banks to withdraw cash after Tsipras’ call for a referendum.
The call for a vote radically raises the stakes in a standoff between Greece and its creditors over the terms for more financial support to the country. Greece’s bailout program expires Tuesday, after which it is unclear whether its banks would be able to avoid collapse.
Across Athens, people started flocking to cash machines just after 1 a.m. local time.
The length of queues at cash machines, and the availability of cash, varied widely.
The Bank of Greece assured, in a statement Saturday afternoon, that the flow of cash to ATMs would not be interrupted.