Bulgarian Transport Minister-designate declines nomination, blames ‘attacks’ against him

Written by on September 13, 2018 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Bulgarian Transport Minister-designate declines nomination, blames ‘attacks’ against him

Bulgarian Deputy Economy Minister Alexander Manolev said on September 13 that he was declining his nomination to be Tranport Minister, citing what he called co-ordinated attacks by a “group of people” against him.

Manolev was one of three nominees for Cabinet posts announced by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov on September 10, to replace three ministers who submitted their resignations after the August 25 Svoge bus crash.

Manolev’s announcement came after a vote in the National Assembly scheduled for September 13 on the resignations and the proposed replacements had to be postponed. One of the nominees, to be Interior Minister, is the ministry’s chief secretary, Mladen Marinov. President Roumen Radev went on a two-day visit to Latvia without signing the decree relieving Marinov of the post, so the vote in Parliament could not proceed.

The announcement by Manolev was made after he spoke with Borissov and with Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov.

Manolev said that he had not yet decided whether to stay on as Deputy Economy Minister, because the attacks against him were also an attack on the whole Cabinet. As to his current post, he said that he would not make an “emotional” decision about it, but would leave the matter up to the Prime Minister.

He said that he was consulting lawyers about possible court action.

He said that from the moment his nomination was announced, allegations had been levelled against him and without any evidence, a “certain group” was trying to block him from becoming Transport Minister.

“Someone is worried about the reforms and the policy that I would have at the Ministry of Transport,” Manolev said.

Reports in Bulgarian-language media have made allegations about an accident in 2012 in which Manolev was involved, as well as about business dealings. Without specifying which allegations he was referring to, he dismissed them as “nothing to do with the truth”.

Manolev said that in the parliamentary election, he had received 6600 preferential votes. At the time of the election campaign, no one had raised these allegations against him. “It is obvious that now is the time to attack”.

The announcement was the latest twist in a saga that began with the August 25 Svoge bus crash, in which 17 people died and 21 were injured, the worst such bus accident in Bulgaria in a decade.

On August 31, Interior Minister Valentin Radev, Transport Minister Ivailo Moskovski and Regional Development Minister Nikolai Nankov said that they were submitting their resignations. They did so at the request of Borissov.

The move precipitated open dissension in the ruling coalition. Within minority partner in government the United Patriots, Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov, leader of the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria, criticised Borissov for firing people from government posts solely for the sake of his own popularity.

In the United Patriots, a grouping of far-right and nationalist parties that is the minority partner in Borissov’s third government and which has seen open infighting in recent months, only Ataka leader Volen Siderov unequivocally backed the resignations.

There was uncertainty about the position of the parliamentary group of Borissov’s GERB party, until after some days group leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov said that it would vote to support the resignations and the nominee ministers.

On September 10, after a meeting of the governing majority’s coalition council, Borissov said that the resignations would be voted on in Parliament on September 13, and he announced his nominees to the portfolios.

With President Radev – who is regularly at odds with Borissov’s government – not having signed the decree dismissing Marinov, it is unlikely that Parliament will vote on the matter until next week. It would now be up to Borissov to name another nominee to replace Manolev.

(Photo of Manolev: Bulgarian economy ministry)

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