Power Outages Amid Cyprus Protests

NICOSIA — Workers at Cyprus’ main electricity company on Feb. 25 briefly shut the power supply to several areas in the bailed-out country to protest government plans to privatize the state-owned utility.

Demetris Constantinou, union chief at the Electricity Authority of Cyprus, said outages lasted between 30 to 45 minutes. He said union leaders will meet later in the day to decide whether to step up industrial action.

The outages are part of a three-day protest against legislation aimed at privatizing the EAC, as well as the country’s telecommunications and ports authorities. The government has pledged to international lenders to approve the legislation by March 5.

Under Cyprus’ 10 billion-euro ($13.7 billion) international bailout agreement reached last year, the government must raise some 1.4 billion euros ($1.92 billion) from such privatizations.

The day before, workers from the Electricity Authority of Cyprus gathered outside Parliament as lawmakers prepared to discuss a bill on privatizing the EAC as well as the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority and the Cyprus Ports authority.

Riot police scuffled with protesters, but there were no immediate reports of arrests.

The government has pledged to its international creditors that it will have passed the bill by March 5.

The Cyprus News Agency said scuffles broke out with police when protesters tried to push past the police barricade in an attempt to enter parliament.

Privatizing state-run companies is part of Cyprus’ 10 billion euro ($13.7 billion) international bailout agreement reached last year. The deal saw authorities seize large portions of uninsured savings in the two largest banks and impose capital controls.

EAC must be privatized by 2018.