Iceland petition against Icesave deal tops 12,000 signatures

14th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

A petition urging Iceland's parliament to vote against a new deal reached with Britain and the Netherlands to repay money lost in the collapse of the Icesave bank had garnered over 12,000 signatures Monday, organisers said.

The online petition also asks Icelandic President Olafur Grimsson to use his veto to block the bill in the event that parliament adopts it.

"The organisation was established to fight for a national vote when it comes to dealing with Iceland's responsibility for the Icesave accounts," Sigurbjorn Svavarsson, a pensioner and member of the Samstada (unity in Icelandic) group, told a news conference.

"Most of us who make up Samstada are opposed to there being an Icesave agreement, but all of us argue the nation should have the final word," he added.

The non-political group, made up of 14 people, launched the website last Friday, and by 1430 GMT Monday, some 12,350 of Iceland's nearly 320,000 people had signed the online petition.

The Icelandic parliament is set to vote for the third and final time this week on a new deal reached with British and Dutch negotiators in December.

Even if Icelandic parliamentarians approve the deal, it still needs the green light from President Olafur Grimsson, who early last year vetoed its hugely unpopular predecessor and put it to a referendum.

Some 93.2 percent of the Icelanders who took part in the popular vote last March rejected the initial deal.

The new deal however is viewed far more positively, and a recent poll showed nearly 57 percent of Icelanders want parliament to adopt the bill.

The new accord stipulates that Reykjavik repay in full the 3.9 billion euros (5.3 billion dollars) which Britain and the Netherlands spent compensating around 340,000 of their citizens hit by Icesave's collapse in October 2008.

Under the deal, Iceland would be able to repay the money very gradually between 2016 and 2046 at a 3.0-percent interest rate for the 1.3 billion euros it owes The Netherlands and at a 3.3-percent rate for the rest it owes Britain.

In the previous rejected deal, Iceland would have been required to repay the Netherlands and Britain between 2016 and 2024 at a 5.5 percent interest rate.

Another website called "Icesave, yes please," voicing support for the new deal, opened late Sunday, and by midday Monday had gathered some 1,000 signatures.

© 2011 AFP

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