War in the Movement for Rights and Freedoms: Dogan calls for Peevski to resign as leader

Amid the turbulent power struggle in the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, MRF founder and honorary president Ahmed Dogan issued a strongly-worded statement on July 10 calling for controversial figure Delyan Peevski to resign as leader of the party.

This follows days of high drama in the MRF, brought to the fore after months of simmering tensions, when the party’s parliamentary group contradicted each other in their votes on July 3 on the government proposed by Boiko Borissov’s GERB-UDF.

Of the MRF parliamentary group, some followed Peevski’s bidding in voting for GERB-UDF Prime Minister-designate Rossen Zhelyazkov while the rest followed the injunction by Dogan to vote against.

The drama has escalated because the MRF, as the second-largest group in Bulgaria’s current Parliament, is entitled to be next to seek to form a government.

Peevski has said that the MRF would reject the mandate, but against the background of the contest over who has sway in the party, others opposed to this stance.

In parallel and as part of the political ructions, Peevski announced on July 9 that he had written to all other parliamentary groups, with the exception of pro-Russian party Vuzrazhdane, on the question of support for talks on a government nominated by the MRF. Every group he approached had, by sunset on July 10, turned him down.

Peevski has been among those claiming that all is well in the party, a claim that has rung hollow as the rival factions have made openly aggressive statements. At the weekend, he claimed cordial and constructive relations with Dogan, a claim no longer plausible – if it ever was – given the Wednesday statement by Dogan unequivocally opposing Peevski.

Dogan held a meeting this past weekend at his Rosenets villa with members of the MRF group who had taken up the cudgels against Peevski, including MRF national co-leader Dzhevdet Chakurov.

In his July 10 statement, keenly-awaited after the Rosenets pow-wow, Dogan called not only for the resignation of Peevski as leader of the MRF, but also of five other Peevski loyalists from the positions they hold in the party.

The anti-Peevski faction has publicly criticised him for the fact that Dogan’s wishes that the party be co-led at parliamentary level as well as national level had been spurned by Peevski in the controversial figure’s power grab, in what some commentators have described as Peevski’s bid for a hostile corporate takeover of the MRF.

Dogan said that there was a serious crisis in the organisational life of the MRF.

He said that this was caused by systematic non-compliance with the MRF statute and “gross violation of the decisions of the most recent MRF conference in February 2024″, a reference to the decision on the co-leadership.

“Never, since its inception more than 34 years ago, has the Movement used seditious approaches to threaten our families, to take away people’s business with the prosecution and police services,” Dogan said.

“A psychosis of fear is being deliberately created about people’s lives, work and property. And to my great surprise, it is claimed that everything that is being done was with my consent!? Absurd! In such a situation, there is no basis for an understanding with anyone,” Dogan said, in what was clearly a reference to Peevski.

Dogan expressed thanks for the support expressed for him from leaders of liberal political groupings in Europe and “our like-minded people and voters from the Republic of Turkey”.

This was an apparent reference to misgivings in the MRF’s traditional ethnic Turk electorate. Peevski is the first figure to occupy a national leadership position who is not of ethnic Turkish descent, and is seen as being behind the ouster of established party figures of that ethnicity. Observers have noted that such moves would not sit well with the MRF’s traditional constituency.

Dogan said: “In fact, there is an attempt at an internal party coup in the MRF to use party power for personal and group interests, and above all to change the political profile of the party.

“This process of illegitimate replacement of MRF must definitely be stopped. No one can steal or misappropriate the MRF.

“Our organisation is not a sole proprietorship,” Dogan said, in a clear reference to the track record in the private sector of Peevski, who also is known for the sanctions imposed on him by the US and UK for large-scale corruption, allegations he denies.

Dogan went further, saying that the party’s collective bodies should decide whether Peevski and the others should be allowed to remain members of the MRF.

“There is no other way to eliminate any arrogant attitude in our structures. My great request to you is to free yourself from fear. We live in a free democratic world. Protect it!” Dogan said.

(Photo, from Facebook, of Dogan’s weekend meeting with members of the anti-Peevski faction)

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