|Citizens with special needs hold a protest in front of the House of Parliament, central Athens, Greece, Sept. 27, 2012. Associations of people with special needs organised protests against the Greek government's plans for further cuts on sickness pensions and benefits as part of new harsh austerity measures demanded by the lenders' "troika" (EU, ECB, IMF). (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)
ATHENS, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- Greek disabled people and police unionists continued anti-austerity protests in Athens on Thursday, as leaders of the three-party coalition government resumed talks to seal a fresh package of painful budget cuts for 2013-2014 to counter the debt crisis.
Chanting slogans against the anticipated new round of cuts on salaries, pensions, welfare benefits and tax increases, Greeks with vision problems and kinetic disabilities marched in the center of the Greek capital, calling on the government to protect the most vulnerable groups of society.
In the meantime, police unionists were protesting outside the headquarters of the conservative New Democracy party of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his centre-Left PASOK and Democratic Left partners.
At the prime minister's office, a new meeting of the leaders -- the third in two weeks -- was underway to finalize the 11.5-billion-euro (14.8 billion U.S. dollars) austerity package requested by international creditors to unlock fresh rescue loans in coming weeks in order to stave off a catastrophic Greek default and potential exit from the eurozone.
The meeting comes after a general nationwide and mass anti-austerity rallies paralyzed the country on Wednesday.
According to the latest local media reports and government sources, coalition partners have agreed on a major part of the package, but talks might drag on to the weekend to seal final details.
The government aims to present the bulk of the measures to the Euro Working group on Friday and reach a final agreement with auditors of EU and International Monetary Fund lenders early next week to secure the green light for the release of the next tranche of loans at the Oct. 18 EU summit.
Debt-crippled Greece is kept afloat with multi-billion-euro loans under bailout agreements since 2010 in return of a tough austerity and structural reform program.
However, Athens has missed initial targets and time tables due to delays in the implementation of structural reforms in particular and is now forced to introduce additional austerity which has fuelled recession and public anger over the past two years.
The pro-bailout government coalition, which took over after June's national elections, pledged to seek a two-year extension of the fiscal adjustment from lenders to ease the burden on poor Greeks after the ratification of the new package.