Bulgaria: Several MRF regional structures, youth wing, side with Dogan against Peevski

Several regional structures of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms issued similarly-worded statements on July 11 affirming support for MRF founder and honorary life president Ahmed Dogan and his call for the resignation of Delyan Peevski from the party leadership.

Dogan issued the call on the night of July 10, against a background of steadily mounting tensions in the MRF. Peevski immediately rejected the call.

On July 11, it was announced in the National Assembly that 17 MRF MPs had been expelled from parliamentary group.

The 17 expelled from the parliamentary group on July 11 are those who met on July 8 with Dogan, after the party’s parliamentary group contradicted each other in their votes on July 3 on the government proposed by Boiko Borissov’s GERB-UDF. Those expelled include MRF national co-leader Dzevdet Chakurov.

Chakurov described the move as illegitimate and out of line with the MRF statute.

Nonetheless, it already had been officially recorded by Parliament. Formerly the second-largest parliamentary group, the MRF is now the fourth-largest.

The expulsions on July 11 followed three earlier expulsions of Dogan loyalists from the group and on Thursday were followed by two MPs leaving the group voluntarily. When the 50th National Assembly was constituted after the June 9 early elections, the MRF group had 47 members. It now has 25.

The regional structures in Kurdzhali – a traditional MRF stronghold – as well as Smolyan, Bourgas, Silistra, Gabrovo, Razgrad and Rousse issued their calls backing Dogan and urging an “MRF without Peevski”.

Apart from these regional structures, the MRF Youth wing also has sided with Dogan against Peevski.

In the corridors of Parliament, Peevski – long a controversial figure and subject to sanctions by the US and the UK for alleged large-scale corruption, allegations he denies – told reporters: “My reading is that certain people want to destroy the MRF”.

Peevski, widely seen as having mounted a prolonged and determined bid to gain control of the MRF, said that he “simply cannot believe” what Dogan was doing.

“I have always been in favor of unification. And today I am for unification. Whoever divides the party does so at his own expense,” Peevski, who went on to deny that it was he and his supporters who were splitting the MRF.

He said that the MRF MPs who had been excluded from the parliamentary group “practically excluded themselves. They formed a faction – the MRF 17. The colleagues excluded them.

Chakurov and Peevski have exchanged allegations of issuing threats.

On July 11, Chakurov and Ramadan Atalai – an MRF MP for decades who was among the first to be thrown out of the parliamentary group – said that they were expecting meetings of the MRF’s collective bodies, that would act in line with Dogan’s call.

Atalai ruled out the possibility of Peevski remaining in the MRF leadership.

A key side-effect of the decrease in size of the MRF group is that given that it is no longer the second-largest parliamentary group, it is no longer entitled to receive the second mandate to seek to form a government.

That place now passes to We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria, which up to now has insisted that it would remain in opposition. By the late afternoon of July 11, WCC-DB had not announced a stance on what it would do with the mandate.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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