Protest planned outside PES Council in Sofia
Anti-government protests in Bulgaria are expected to continue over the weekend, with a separate rally planned in front of the National Palace of Culture (NDK) for June 22, scheduled to coincide with the Party of European Socialists (PES) Council meeting.
A Facebook group called “Occupy NDK” called for the day-long protest if the Plamen Oresharski government refused to tender its resignation. “Let’s show PES the extent of people’s love for Sergei Stanishev” is the group’s motto.
Following the protest at NDK, the group calls for all participants to join the by-now-usual protest against the Oresharski government, to be held in the evening.
Stanishev, the leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and PES president, has come under criticism from rivals inside BSP for his handling of the situation around the appointment of controversial MP and media owner Delyan Peevski as director of the State Agency for National Security (SANS).
Even though Parliament has already cancelled Peevski’s appointment, which triggered the anti-government protests, the rallies have shown no sign of abating.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Oresharski has refused to step down and Stanishev, too, has rejected calls to step down as party leader. Late on June 20, he received a formal vote of confidence from the BSP national council.
Speaking to reporters on June 21, Stanishev said that “resignations are not submitted on internet.” Once again, he blamed political rivals GERB of trying to use the protests, calling for patience and time for the Oresharski administration to win back the trust lost with the Peevski appointment.
Ahead of the PES Council, which is meant to “kick-start the preparations” for the 2014 European Parliament elections, Bulgarian media said that Stanishev may face calls to resign as PES president. French socialist Martine Aubry, the mayor of Lille and former French socialist leader, is one of those calling for Stanishev to step down, according to the reports, with Spanish socialists also in opposition to Stanishev.
(NDK, built as the Cold War winded down to host the congresses of the Bulgarian communist party, lies squarely on the route taken by the protesters’ march every evening. Photo: Apostoloff/wikimedia.org)