Bulgarian political crisis: Socialist leadership challenge, #ignorevolen and other stories

As anti-government protesters in Bulgaria plan to hold a fifth rally in as many days, appeals were made in social media on June 18 to avoid the headquarters of ultra-nationalist Ataka, where the previous night several people were injured as bottles and stones were thrown on both sides of police lines.

Ataka leader Volen Siderov used the opportunity to accuse political rivals GERB of paying protesters to attack his party’s headquarters, saying that the police were accomplice to the attempts to denigrate Ataka.

On Twitter, the calls to avoid Ataka’s headquarters used the #ignorevolen hashtag, in addition to the #дансwithme hashtag used since the start of the protests on June 14. Similar appeals were made on Facebook.

The protest on June 18 is scheduled to begin at the same time (6.30pm) and the same place (the Cabinet building at 1 Dondukov Boulevard) as on the previous days.

* Socialist leader Sergei Stanishev, facing calls to resign from several party heavyweights and local party organisations, said on June 18 that doing so would trigger a leadership fight and weaken the Cabinet of Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski. Doing so would pave the road for GERB’s return to government, Stanishev was quoted as saying.

Stanishev too accused GERB of paying people to “infiltrate the protests” and cause unrest. He said that GERB has been preparing “a scenario of destabilisation” after the May elections put the party out of government.

Despite rejecting the resignation calls, Stanishev said that the socialist executive bureau was prepared to ask for a vote of confidence at the extraordinary meeting of the party’s national council, scheduled for June 20.

In recent days, several of Stanishev’s rivals within the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), including former president Georgi Purvanov, who made an unsuccessful leadership challenge last year, have asked for Stanishev’s resignation and an emergency meeting of the party congress to elect a new leadership.

* Meanwhile, the socialist party organisations in Blagoevgrad and Plovdiv were joined by the Pazardjik socialists in opposition to the new regional governors, seen as nominated by the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) and appointed by Oresharski.

MRF leader Lyutvi Mestan told Bulgarian National Television that his party was not in a formal coalition with the BSP, although it did back the Oresharski government. He said that a concerted effort was being made to present the party in a bad light and “resurrect the myth” of a “power-hungry” MRF.

* Mestan also said that the resignation of Delyan Peevski – whose appointment as the director of the State Agency for National Security triggered the anti-government protests on June 14 – as an MP was not voted by Parliament, so there was no legal obstacle for Peevski to return to the Parliament bench if his appointment was cancelled.

A motion to cancel Peevski’s appointment has been submitted to Parliament and a vote was expected on June 19, according to reports in Bulgarian media. The Parliament did not list its agenda for the June 19 sitting.

GERB MP Tsetska Tsacheva, the speaker in the previous legislature, said that the party would challenge such an outcome at the Constitutional Court, arguing that the motion to cancel Peevski’s appointment was without legal grounds.

* GERB would stay out of Parliament and would only sit on sessions discussing amendments to the Electoral Code, party leader and former prime minister Boiko Borissov said. The first meetings on such amendments, between Deputy Speaker Maya Manolova and NGOs, were held on June 18.

Borissov said that his intention was to avoid “provocations” from the parties in the ruling coalition. “BSP and MRF have reached the bottom. BSP will only fall further and will try their best to drag us down with them,” he told reporters after a meeting of the GERB parliamentary group.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)



The Sofia Globe staff

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