Hours after Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party issued a statement that Panayot Reyzi had resigned as mayor of Sozopol and as a member of the party, Reyzi told local radio that he had quit the party, but had not stepped down as mayor.
The strange twist involving Reyzi came on April 9, a day after a court suspended him from office as mayor in connection with allegations of criminal misspending of two million leva (about a million euro).
It also comes as GERB, heading into a tight race in Bulgaria’s May 2019 European Parliament elections, is caught up in a damaging controversy over senior figures under investigation in connection with having acquired apartments from a company at allegedly below-market prices.
The GERB statement earlier on April 9 said that Reyzi had stepped down as mayor and resigned from GERB after talks with Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and GERB deputy leader and Bourgas mayor Dimitar Nikolov.
But Reyzi told Radio Bourgas that he had not resigned as mayor. He confirmed that he had met Borissov and Nikolov but said that they did not want him to resign as mayor.
Reyzi denied wrongdoing, and said that proceedings were only at pre-trial stage.
“I have resigned as chairman of GERB in Sozopol, but not as mayor. There is no way I should resign as mayor at this stage. I have resigned from the party. In this way, I distinguish myself from the party.
“They are constantly attacking my fellow party members, which means that in this way there is a black mark on the party,” he said.
Months after the European Parliament elections, Bulgaria heads to the polls in mayoral and municipal elections in October. Reyzi is among a number of town mayors who have been accused by prosecutors of wrongdoing of various kinds.