Anti-govt protesters block Bulgarian parliament for close to twelve hours

By bne IntelliNews July 24, 2013

Several thousand protesters blocked Bulgaria's parliament on Tuesday evening, holding some 109 lawmakers, ministers, unionists and journalists trapped inside for close to twelve hours until Wednesday morning. The police evacuated the MPs and the government officials between 4am-5am local time on July 24, Dnevnik daily reported.

Demonstrators decided to block the parliament and prevent officials from leaving it at a time when parliamentary committees approved the government's budget revision proposal to raise the deficit to 2%/GDP from current 1.3%/GDP and also raise the debt ceiling by BGN 1bn (EUR 511mn) this year.

The demonstrators, who already spent some 40 consecutive days protesting against the government, said they will remain in front of the parliament until the cabinet resigns. An hour before midnight clashes erupted and several people were injured as the police unsuccessfully attempted to escort officials from the building in a bus. This is the first incidence of violence since mid-June when protests began.

The ministers inside were finance minister Petar Chobanov, economy and energy minister Dragomir Stoynev and labour minister Hasan Ademov, according to Dnevnik.

In response to the tensions in front of the parliament, CEDB's leader and former PM Boyko Borissov demanded the government's immediate resignation and urged the president to summon a national security council. Meanwhile, in a statement published on the institution's website President Rossen Plevneliev asked the protesters to remain calm and peaceful.

It is evident that the government faces growing pressure every day. The political stability is very shaky at the moment and the government's future is under question. The outcome of the situation could unfold on Thursday, when according to earlier reports the parliament is supposed to vote on the budget revision. Following the blockade, however, it is not clear whether the MPs will return to their duties on Wednesday. 

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