November 22, 2008
At least five people were injured in Iceland’s capital Saturday during a protest over the country’s economic meltdown.
Several thousand people attended the demonstration that began in front of the country’s parliament in Reykjavik. A few hundred of those people then made their way to a police building, where they demanded a fellow protester being held by authorities since Friday be released.
Five people were reportedly injured when officers used pepper spray and batons to repel demonstrators after some tried to storm the building.
The crowd was finally placated when authorities freed the man in custody, who had been detained for his role in a previous demonstration, after someone agreed to pay his outstanding fine.
Saturday’s protest was one of several held recently in Iceland, whose banking system collapsed in October. About a third of Iceland’s population of 320,000 are believed to have lost their savings.
Demonstrators accuse the government, which was elected last year, of not doing enough to regulate the banking industry and have called for early elections. Iceland’s next election is not required until 2011.
The value of the krona, Iceland’s national currency, has been cut in half since January.
Four Nordic countries, as well as the International Monetary Fund, have pledged to lend the country a combined $4.6 billion US to help revive its deflated economy.
The loan would be the first by the IMF to a Western nation since 1976.
Iceland Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde, has said the government will use the IMF money to reintroduce a flexible interest rate regime and revise financial regulations, particularly insolvency laws.
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