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Greeks deeply divided heading into crucial vote

Drug makers are also warning of shortages in life saving medicines in the country.

Pensioners wait to get their pensions outside a National Bank of Greece branch in central Athens on 2 July 2015, as banks only opened for pensioners to allow them to get their pensions, with a limit of €120. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - As Greece prepares for tomorrow's referendum on cash reforms the debt crisis continues to deepen with supermarkets saying supplies could begin to run short.

Drug makers are also warning of shortages in life saving medicines.

Ordinary citizens are now voicing concern a man says he does not have access to his money.

The head of Athen's general hospital says essential medical supplies could run out within one week.

At the same time, tens of thousands of Greeks took to the streets on Friday in rival rallies that laid bare the deep divide heading into a referendum that may decide the country's future in Europe's single currency.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, elected in January on a promise to end years of austerity, urged people packing Syntagma square in central Athens to spurn the tough terms of an aid deal offered by international creditors to keep the country afloat.

His European partners say a 'No' vote will jeopardise Greece's membership of the euro.

Tsipras says they are bluffing, fearing the fallout for Europe and the global economy. A 'Yes' vote may bring him down, ushering in a new period of political instability for a country reeling from five days of shuttered banks and rationed cash withdrawals.

Framing Sunday's ballot as a battle for democracy, freedom and European values, the 40-year-old left-wing leader told Greeks to "turn your backs on those who terrorise you daily".

"On Sunday, we are not just deciding that we are staying in Europe, but that we are deciding to live with dignity in Europe," he told the crowd of at least 50,000.

His opponents accuse Tsipras of gambling Greece's future on a rapid-fire plebiscite that a major European rights watchdog says falls short of international standards of fairness.

Four opinion polls published on Friday had the 'Yes' vote marginally ahead; a fifth put the 'No' camp 0,5 percent in front, but all were well within the margin of error.

"We know that the lenders will close the door if we say no, but we must fight," said 65-year-old pensioner Irini Stavridou, who attended the 'No' rally.

"We must fight not only for Greece but all the people in Europe, for those who just have a different opinion."