Mustafa Karadayi resigns as leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms

Mustafa Karadayi has resigned as leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), a post he has held since April 2016, the MRF said on November 7.

The MRF was established in 1990 as Bulgaria’s communist era came to a close, with Ahmed Dogan – formerly a collaborator with Bulgaria’s communist-era secret service State Security – as its founder and leader.

Dogan remained in the leadership post until 2013, when he became the MRF honorary chairperson and was succeeded by Lyutvi Mestan, who was ousted and Karadayi handed the post. Unlike Dogan and Mestan, Karadayi has not been identified by the Dossier Commission as having worked for State Security.

The party’s traditional support base is among Bulgarians of Turkish ethnicity, and it purports to be a liberal party. It has been involved in national governing coalitions a number of times over the past three decades.

Karadayi has hardly been in the public eye in Bulgaria in recent months, including during the MRF’s campaign during the October-November 2023 municipal elections. In those elections, the party largely held on to its traditional strongholds.

Instead, making almost daily appearances before reporters has been MRF MP Delyan Peevski, a controversial figure subject to US Magnitsky Act sanctions since June 2021 and UK sanctions since February 2023. Peevski recently became the MRF parliamentary group co-leader, a post previously held solely by Karadayi.

The MRF is due to hold a national conference at the end of January 2024, expected to see the election of a new leader. Until then, Dogan will take the “operational leadership” of the party, its media statement said.

Reports said that the MRF central bureau was meeting on the evening of November 7.

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