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Athens: “NO” led by 61 percent of votes against 39 percent for YES in crucial Greek referendum on the debt deal creditors have submitted, according to the first official estimate released by the Interior Ministry with about 20 percent of votes counted.

Turnout in Sunday’s referendum that might decide whether Greece would stave off an imminent disorderly default and a possible exit from the euro zone stood at approximately 57 percent, a media outlet cited the first official estimate.

At least 40 percent of the electoral body should participate for the referendum to be valid, under the Greek Constitution.

As the final official results were expected on Monday morning, Greek cabinet ministers were expressing the Leftist government’s satisfaction over the outcome and willingness to strike a better agreement with lenders immediately.

“We must strike a deal within 48 hours,” Greek government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis told the national broadcaster ERT highlighting the urgency for a deal, as the local banking system faced the specter of collapse with no foreign aid, banks closed and capital controls introduced since last Monday.

The chief of Greece’s Banking Association, Louka Katseli has said that ATMs are expected to run out of cash on Monday should the emergency liquidity aid to Greek banks not resume in the next few hours.

Voters gave a clear mandate to the Leftist government to seek a “mutually beneficial” solution to the crisis based on its proposals rather than the creditor’s offer on harsh terms, Sakellaridis argued, as NO camp proponents were gathering in front of the parliament to celebrate.

Sakellaridis and other cabinet ministers speaking in local media assured that dialogue with lenders would resume from Sunday night. According to government sources, the Greek negotiating team was ready to travel to Brussels.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who called the referendum a week ago as five month negotiations with lenders had hit an impasse, has assured voters that on July 7 Greece will have a deal at hand on better terms to secure further vital international funding to stay afloat in the euro zone.

The government assured that banks which closed after the European Central Bank cut off emergency liquidity aid following his surprise call for the referendum, will reopen on Tuesday.

Skepticism was widespread, in particular after remarks made by some ministers on Sunday evening.

“In 24 hours we could have an agreement, I said. But our toxic media rushed to report that I predicted an agreement within 24 hours,” Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis tweeted.

Deputy Finance Minister, Nadia Valavanis caused an immediate uproar by stating on Alpha television that the government intended to block access to safe deposit boxes in banks vaults to savers to avert further bank run.

European officials, main opposition parties in Greece and analysts across the world have warned that the result could be interpreted as a NO to Greece’s future membership in the euro zone and lead to more hardship for Greek people.

Since July 1, Greece is already in arrears to the International Monetary Fund and without the safety net of the bailout program that kept it afloat over the past five years, is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

Officials and analysts in Greece and abroad warned that banks may not reopen this week and Greek citizens will suffer more pain before any deal is reached. (IANS)


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