Lyutvi Mestan, ousted as leader and as a member of the Bulgarian Parliament’s third-largest party the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, said on January 7 that he was staying in politics.
Mestan was expelled from the MRF after founder and honorary president Ahmed Dogan publicly criticised him for what Dogan called Mestan’s “gaffe” in his parliamentary declaration on Turkey’s downing of a Russian military bomber. “Sometime around Christmas I stepped on a Russian mine and you know what happened,” Mestan told the January 7 news conference. His formal expulsion from the party was on December 24, Christmas Eve.
Bulgaria’s National Assembly is scheduled to resume sittings on January 13, at which point it is expected to become clear precisely how many MPs will leave the parliamentary group in solidarity with Mestan.
Reports have said five MRF MPs will quit, which along with Mestan’s expulsion would reduce the parliamentary group from 36 to 30 – which would mean it would remain the third-largest group. The fourth-largest, the Reformist Bloc – which has internal troubles of its own – has 23 MPs.
Mestan, who when in the MRF leadership long insisted that the party was key to Bulgaria’s Euro-Atlantic orientation (the party, led and supported in the main by Bulgarians of Turkish ethnicity, proclaims itself as liberal), said that Bulgaria needed a Euro-Atlantic direction.
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