Bulgaria’s anti-government protesters scorn Borissov’s Cabinet reshuffle

Written by on July 23, 2020 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Bulgaria’s anti-government protesters scorn Borissov’s Cabinet reshuffle

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s proposed Cabinet reshuffle, announced on July 23, was received with disdain by organisers of the protests that have been going on for more than two weeks demanding the resignation of the government and Prosecutor-General Ivan Geshev.

Borissov, after consultations with his ultra-nationalist minority partners in government, said that the finance, interior, economy and tourism ministers were resigning. The reshuffle announced on July 23 went further than his previous demand for the finance, interior and economy ministers to quit.

Professor Velislav Minekov, one of the self-described “poison trio” group that is among protest organisers, told Bulgarian National Radio that Borissov’s bid to stay in power would “provoke a powerful response” at the Thursday evening protest.

Democratic Bulgaria leader Hristo Ivanov responded to Borissov’s statement that he had long wanted to be Prosecutor-General by saying: “No, I do not want to become Prosecutor-General and I do not think that politicians in Bulgaria should take up that post”.

Ivanov, who was Justice Minister in the second Borissov government before resigning on principle, said that Borissov’s claim that Ivanov wanted to be Prosecutor-General was an “absurd thesis with which Borissov shows his fear”.

“This statement once again shows his dependence. This dependence has been the main axis of political corruption in Bulgaria for the past 10 years and that is why Borissov has to leave. He is a dependent man who fears the real rule of law in Bulgaria. That is why we want his resignation.”

The changes to the Cabinet could not be described as “anything other than rearranging the deckchairs aboard the Titanic,” Ivanov said.

The protests would go on because the citizenry wanted the government to resign, he said. Swift elections were needed to bring about profound change, Ivanov said.

Parliamentary elections in Bulgaria are scheduled for spring 2021. Senior figures in Borissov’s GERB party and government have repeatedly rejected the calls to resign, saying doing so amid a crisis would be a mistake. They also have expressed confidence that opinion polls show GERB as set to get the largest share of votes in the next election.

July 22 was the 14th consecutive night of protests against the government and Geshev, with protesters blocking key road intersections in capital city Sofia. The evening’s protest was held with the theme: “First block Sofia, then the state”.

People pelted parliamentary and government buildings with toilet paper (not in short supply in Bulgaria, which saw scant panic-buying amid the Covid-19 crisis) and threw flat caps over the railings on to the steps of the Palace of Justice. The flat caps were a reference to Geshev’s trademark headgear.

At a briefing on July 23, Sofia police thanked participants in the protests for behaving peacefully.

Police Commissioner Toni Todorov, deputy head of the security police, said: “In the late hours of last night, we noticed that there were ideas and calls for this blocking of large intersections to happen in the early hours, which is really worrying because of the traffic in the capital”.

“We will build a strategy to be prepared to ensure the normal movement of people,” he said.

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