Bulgaria’s Movement for Rights and Freedoms party expels mayor of Hitrino over slow recovery of blast-hit town

Bulgarian opposition party the Movement for Rights and Freedoms has expelled the mayor of Hitrino and the leader of the municipal party organisation, citing slow recovery efforts of the town, site of a fatal gas blast in December 2016.

The expulsions of mayor Nuridin Ismail and municipal party leader Mustafa Ahmed were announced on June 14 2017 by MRF parliamentary group deputy leader Yordan Tsonev.

Tsonev said that the main reason for the expulsions was that there were too many complaints from residents of Hitrino that the rebuilding of the town was not going according to their expectations.

“There is no transparency in the activity of the mayor and the municipal organization, in particular the municipal council,” Tsonev said.

Even the members of the public committee set up in connection with the rebuilding of Hitrino and the spending of the funds, did not know what was going on there, he said.

Tsonev described Ismail as “arrogant” and said that the mayor failed to provide people with information. The website meant to provide information about funds received gave no information, he said.

Tsonev declined to say whether financial abuses were suspected.

In the December 2016 accident, a train carrying gas tanks exploded, leaving seven people dead, a large number injured, and 50 houses destroyed.

The accident and the devastation caused to the town led to large-scale public fundraising to assist people who lost relatives and property in the blast.

Ismail told local media on June 14 that he was not aware of the decision to expel him from the MRF and that he had not heard from party headquarters. The first he had heard was when journalists began to call him to comment, he said.

He confirmed that last week he had resigned as leader of the MRF in the town of Shoumen, saying that he had done so because of the loss of votes in the March parliamentary elections. He said that he had remained a member of the party.

Asked if his close relationship with Prime Minister and GERB party leader Boiko Borissov could be the real reason for his expulsion, Ismail said that this was possible, and dismissed talk of lack of transparency in the spending of funds as “nonsense”.

He would not comment on what his response would be if the MRF called on him to resign as mayor, and said that he had no intention for now of stepping down from the post.

(Screenshot, of prime minister Boiko Borissov speaking to mayor Nuridin Ismail: BNT)




The Sofia Globe staff

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