Bulgaria steps closer to caretaker government, protests continue

All political parties of any significance in Bulgaria’s Parliament have now said that they want the formation of a caretaker government and elections as soon as possible and will not accept a mandate to serve out the remainder of the Borissov’s government truncated term.

This was made clear as leaders of all but one of the parties represented in Parliament arrived on February 22 2013 for collective political consultations convened by President Rossen Plevneliev.

Borissov’s GERB party already had said that it would not accept the mandate to form a new government and would not serve in the caretaker government. On February 21, Parliament voted to accept the resignation of Borissov’s cabinet, which Borissov announced the day before in reaction to violent incidents in Sofia during nationwide protests.

Arriving for the consultations with Plevneliev, which the President decided to hold with all parties simultaneously instead of individually, Sergei Stanishev – leader the largest opposition party, the Bulgarian Socialist Party – said that he was very concerned about the state that the outgoing government had left the country in and the only correct course of action now was the formation of a caretaker government.

No one from GERB or linked to it should be in this caretaker administration, Stanishev said: “We will not accept any form of covert participation and leadership by GERB in this government”.

The Movement for Rights and Freedoms, the third-largest party in the current Parliament, said that it would not accept a mandate to form a government and said that all other parties should reject the mandate en bloc.

Ivan Kostov, leader of the Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria and co-leader of the centre-right Blue Coalition, said that the coalition would not participate in a caretaker government.

However, before Parliament was dissolved, urgent measures should be adopted to reform the way that electricity prices were decided and to remove the members of regulatory bodies and appoint new ones, Kostov said.

Volen Siderov, leader of the minority Ataka ultra-nationalist party, boycotted the meeting with the President, saying that he would come only if the media and representatives of the protesters were present throughout.

Meanwhile, in spite of the resignation of the Borissov government, protests were scheduled to continue in various Bulgarian cities and towns on February 22, the 13th days since they began, initially as protests against high electricity bills and energy distribution monopolies.

The list of protesters’ demands was growing, including – variously – the convening of a Grand National Assembly, changes to the constitution including the reduction of the number of MPs, reviews of concession agreements, among others. However, while the number of demands may be growing, the first night after Parliament accepted the government’s resignation saw the turnout for protests reduced. Some youths who came to the protests masked and who attempted to provoke incidents were pushed away by other protesters who wanted the events to remain peaceful.

In Sofia, protests were scheduled for 6pm and in Plovdiv, for 5pm on February 22. Protests also were scheduled in Rousse and Varna.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)





The Sofia Globe staff

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