Iceland blocks repayment deal, sparks global outrage

Iceland President Olafur Grimsson has angered Britain and the Dutch

Until Tuesday, Olafur Grimsson's role as president of Iceland was largely ceremonial. Suddenly, it's worth billions.

In a twist to the island nation's much-watched struggle to cope with its massive debt, Mr. Grimsson blocked a $5-billion (U.S.) deal to pay Britain and the Netherlands for losses suffered by depositors in one of Iceland's banks.

The move drew outrage around the world, and handed the country's people a tough choice to make in a referendum – agree to repay the money, or say no and risk cementing the country's status as an international deadbeat.

Icelanders, resentful at paying for their banks' failings amid a crumbling economy, are widely expected to deliver a resounding “No.” One recent opinion poll suggests 70 per cent of the country's 320,000 people would oppose the settlement.

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