Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court decided to call on Delyan Peevski – the man whose appointment as director of the State Agency for National Security (SANS) in June sparked more than 100 days of anti-government protests – to appear in front of the court on October 8, before ruling on whether Peevski should remain a member of Parliament.
The decision appears to break with court practice in that, previously, parties subject to the Constitutional Court’s rulings have been asked to present their position in writing, rather than appear in front of the court.
This circumstance, according to reports in Bulgarian media, has caused some tension inside the court, with the Constitutional Court’s chairperson Dimitar Tokushev asking that Peevski be heard by the court, while the judge assigned to the case, Roumen Nenkov, in disagreement.
At the same time, the law requires the court to give MPs who risk losing their parliamentary seats the opportunity to present their case in person, news website Mediapool.bg said.
Peevski, who was elected to Parliament on the ticket of the predominantly ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms, was elected director of SANS on June 14, triggering the first in the series of ongoing protest rallies that demand the government’s resignation.
The legal quandary in this case is that Peevski’s resignation from Parliament was never voted by his fellow MPs, as is required by law; according to reports in Bulgarian media, he submitted such a request, but later withdrew it.
After his speedy election, Peevski took the oath of office and held a meeting with the prosecutor-general on the same day, but – as he said in the statement announcing his readiness to step down on June 15 – he had not signed the contract for his new position. Parliament later voted to cancel the appointment on June 19.
According to former constitutional court judge Georgi Markov, quoted by Sega daily at that time, the request for the Constitutional Court to rule in this case was superfluous because the court has already issued rulings in similar cases. In 1993, the court ruled that any MP appointed as director of a state agency automatically lost their standing as an MP, Markov said.
The court decided to also hear socialist MP Ivan Ivanov on October 8. Ivanov was appointed Deputy Interior Minister on June 19, but later in the day the Cabinet’s press service said in a terse statement that Ivanov had been fired as deputy minister.
The statement gave no further details, but reports in several Bulgarian-language media highlighted the ties between Ivanov’s father and the highly-controversial business group SIC, which was influential during the early years of Bulgaria’s transition to democracy in the 1990s.
Bulgaria’s largest opposition party, GERB, asked the Constitutional Court to confirm that Ivanov’s term as an MP ended when his appointment decree was signed – even though his resignation from Parliament, just like in Peevski’s case, was never voted by Parliament.
(Peevski, in the middle of the top row, on an election poster for MRF for the May 2013 parliamentary elections. Photo: dps.bg)