Bulgaria: Handover of mandate to bid to form government postponed because of church Patriarch’s death

Bulgarian President Roumen Radev has postponed the handover ceremony of the first mandate to seek to form a government, which had been scheduled for March 16, until March 18 because of the death of Bulgarian Orthodox Church Patriarch Neofit.

Neofit’s death, at the age of 78 from multiple organ failure, was announced by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s governing body the Holy Synod on the night of March 13.

A memorial service will be held at Alexander Nevsky cathedral on March 15 and Neofit’s funeral will be on March 16.

Radev, speaking after signing the book of condolences at the Sofia headquarters of the Holy Synod, said: “The death of Patriarch Neofit is a huge loss for the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and for the entire Bulgarian people.

“In these days of universal humility and veneration of his memory, political passions are irrelevant and that is why I am postponing the mandate to form a government until Monday at 12 o’clock,” Radev said.

The government information service said that Bulgaria’s Cabinet was to take a decision to declare March 15 and 16 as days of national mourning.

Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov, speaking after signing the book of condolences, told reporters: “We already have an agreement with the Holy Synod. According to their wish, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow will be days of mourning – Friday and Saturday”.

The announcement of Neofit’s death was followed by an outpouring of tributes from within and outside Bulgaria.

The Sofia Globe staff

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