Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said on September 10 that the resignations submitted by three Cabinet ministers after the Svoge bus disaster would be tabled in the National Assembly on September 13, and he announced the names of the nominees to succeed them.
Borissov was speaking after a meeting of the coalition council of the groups in government, his GERB party and the United Patriots, a grouping of three ultra-nationalist and far-right parties.
Interior Minister Valentin Radev, Regional Development Minister Nikolai Nankov and Transport Minister Ivailo Moskovski submitted their resignations on August 31 on the orders of Borissov, taking the fall for the Svoge bus crash on August 25, in which 17 people died and 21 were injured.
Borissov said that he was nominating Deputy Economy Minister Alexander Manolev to become Transport Minister, Interior Ministry chief secretary Mladen Marinov to take over the ministerial portfolio and Deputy Regional Development Minister Petya Avramova to be promoted to minister.
There have been open divisions in the ruling coalition about the resignations and whether the three Cabinet ministers should be held culpable for the Svoge disaster.
The harshest public criticism has come from United Patriots co-leader and Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov, who said that his National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria party would vote against the resignations. Simeonov accused Borissov of acting unilaterally in government and failing to consult his coalition partners, while the NFSB leader said that the Prime Minister fired people with an eye on his own popularity in the polls.
That precipitated a melodrama in the ruling coalition, leading to a September 3 coalition council at which it was agreed that communication in the coalition would be improved.
VMRO leader and United Patriots co-leader Krassimir Karakachanov has queried the resignations but supported Borissov’s prerogative to change Cabinet members from his own party, while Ataka leader Volen Siderov backed the resignations.
Siderov, speaking ahead of the September 10 coalition council, said that he saw a “conspiracy” by people close to Borissov to bring him down.
Within Borissov’s GERB party, there have been misgivings about the submitted resignations, though on September 9, GERB parliamentary leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov said that if the resignations were tabled, the group would vote in favour of them.
Borissov told reporters after the 90-minute meeting: “On the subject you are most interested in, the resignations submitted – on Thursday we will enter Parliament, we have a majority to support all three”.
Borissov said that he had listened very carefully to the respective arguments of Simeonov, Tsvetanov, Siderov and Karakachanov.
“We cannot say that they are guilty in respect of the (Svoge) accident, but at the same time we cannot act as if nothing has happened, as with previous governments.”
It has been a talking point of late for GERB and its backers to say that under a government led by the Bulgarian Socialist Party, there was a bus crash in Byala which also resulted in a large number of fatalities, yet no ministers resigned.
After the Svoge bus crash, Kornelia Ninova, leader of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, called on Borissov’s whole government to resign.