Standoff with Radev: Parliament may vote on only two ministerial appointments

If by September 20, President Roumen Radev has not signed the decree dismissing Mladen Marinov as Interior Ministry chief secretary so that he may be elected as minister, Parliament will vote on the other two ministerial nominations, GERB parliamentary leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov said.

This is the latest twist in the standoff between the ruling majority and Radev that has contributed to the delay in voting on the three changes to the Cabinet in the wake of the resignations on August 31 after the Svoge bus crash.

Tsvetanov, in a September 18 television interview, said that constitutional experts saw no obstacle to Marinov being voted into office as Interior Minister. Once that vote was approved, within a month Marinov should be relieved of his duties as Interior Ministry chief secretary because holding both posts was incompatible.

“But we do not want to hold the vote on Mladen Marinov before President Radev’s decree,” Tsvetanov said.

He said that Radev was seeking another confrontation with the executive and the National Assembly.

This was a style of behaviour “that we have noticed from the time that he took the oath as President and made his first speech in the Bulgarian Parliament,” Tsvetanov said.

Radev took office in January 2017 as head of state, on a ticket backed by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party. Amid the political melodrama at the time, there was confrontation between Radev and Boiko Borissov’s governing majority.

Tsvetanov said that had Marinov had submitted his resignation as Interior Ministry chief secretary and there was no need for the Cabinet to provide reasons for asking the President to issue the decree dismissing him.

He gave two examples of precedents, the first when Boiko Borissov resigned as Interior Ministry chief secretary in 2005, and the second when Roumen Radev resigned in 2016 as head of the Bulgarian Air Force.

In the case of Borissov, then-president Georgi Purvanov had signed the decree on his dismissal “within a day or two”. Tsvetanov said that everyone had known that Borissov had left the post to stand as a candidate in the Sofia mayoral elections, and “neither Interior Minister Roumen Petkov nor President Georgi Purvanov or Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev sabotaged it,” Tsvetanov said, referring to three office-bearers of the time all linked to the BSP.

Tsvetanov said that when Radev quit his post as Air Force commander, then-president Rossen Plevneliev (who was head of state on a ticket backed by GERB) had issued the decree, while everyone had known that Radev was to stand in the presidential election with the backing of the BSP.

“It is not normal for the president to seek this provocation,” Tsvetanov said.

The vote that had been scheduled for Bulgaria’s Parliament for September 13, to approve the three resignations and vote the appointees into office, did not go ahead because Radev, as head of state, had not signed a decree releasing Marinov from his duties as Interior Ministry chief secretary.

Radev went abroad on official business on September 13 and 14. At the time, amid a dispute about just when the Cabinet had sent his office the draft decree dismissing Marinov, the President’s office said that he would sign the decree on his return.

But at the weekend, Roumen Radev dug in his heels, saying that he would not sign documents under pressure and saying that the Cabinet had failed to follow procedures, including co-ordinating the decision about Marinov with him. He said that the timeline of events offered by Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva, a senior member of Borissov’s GERB party, “did not correspond to the truth”.

On September 17, after a coalition council meeting, representatives of the ruling majority said that they wanted to meet Radev to discuss the Marinov situation, but he said that he was refusing to meet them.

(Archive photo: Tsvetanov, Borissov and Radev)



The Sofia Globe staff

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