Bulgarian president to launch talks with parties over protests

Reuters , Monday 24 Jun 2013

'I will do everything possible to find a solution,' Bulgarian president says in an attempt to end anti-governmental protests that erupted 10 days ago

Bulgaria's president said on Monday he would hold talks with all political parties on how to bring an end to protest rallies against graft and organised crime that have paralysed politics in the Black Sea nation for more than a week.

Thousands of mainly younger Bulgarians have been staging daily rallies in Sofia and other cities demanding the resignation of the three-week-old Socialist-led government over its bungled bid to impose a media mogul as head of national security without debate.

Bowing to the protesters, parliament quickly rescinded the appointment and Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski apologised, but he has refused to quit, saying this would destabilise the European Union's poorest member state and harm its economy.

President Rosen Plevneliev, whose office is largely ceremonial but carries moral weight, has praised the peaceful, good-natured protests as a positive sign of Bulgarian democracy and has urged the politicians to heed the calls for reform.

"I will hold consultations with the political parties represented in the parliament. It will take a few days," Plevneliev told reporters.

"I will certainly enlarge the focus of my consultations and I hope I will hear a lot of representatives of other political parties by the end of the week," he said.

"I expect clear commitments to be taken. I will do everything possible to find a solution."

More than two decades after the fall of communism, Bulgarians are fuming over their politicians' continued failure to tackle graft and organised crime, which deter investment and keep living standards low.

Street protests felled the centre-right cabinet of Boiko Borisov in February, paving the way for May's snap election in which his GERB party won most votes but lacked allies to form a government.

The Socialists and the ethnic Turkish MRF party, which placed second and third respectively in the election, then managed to form a fragile coalition that needs the passive support of a small nationalist party to stay in power.



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