Bulgarians rally against new government following controversial appointment

By bne IntelliNews June 17, 2013

Thousands of Bulgarians took to the streets in the capital Sofia and some 20 other cities in the country over the weekend demanding the resignation of the recently elected socialist-led government. The prime minister Oresharski has so far declined to step down.

Demonstrations in the country began on Friday evening when protesters rallied in front of the government's headquarters to demand the parliament revoke its controversial appointment of Delyan Peevski as head of the national security agency (DANS). Peevski issued a statement to Bulgarian media on Saturday, saying he had not yet signed the paperwork that would officially make him security chief, and he is ready to accept a parliament revocation. The letter was written in a way that confused some of the media and the protesters that he has resigned from the post, when in fact the procedure requires the parliament to vote him down.

Also on Saturday, PM Plamen Oresharski said that Peevski's intention not to assume office was approved by socialist BSP and ethnic Turkish MRF - the two members of Bulgaria's ruling coalition. MPs from the parties will initiate a parliamentary procedure to revoke the appointment of Peevski as head of DANS, Oresharski added.

However, demonstrations continued on Saturday evening, turning into anti-government protests. Some socialist party members, have been calling for Sergey Stanishev to step down as leader of BSP. In an interview for BTV Stanishev admitted to making a political mistake appointing Peevski.

On Sunday, when over 15,000 Bulgarians joined the protest in Sofia,  PM Oresharski issued a statement, saying it would be irresponsible for the government to resign, as such a move would destabilise the country. He acknowledged that his pick for new DANS chief was socially-unacceptable and invited protesters and NGOs for a meeting on Monday, June 17.

Shortly after Peevski's appointment on Friday, Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev urged the parliament to reconsider its decision and summoned the consultative council on national security on June 20.

Oresharski's government was elected in May, following snap elections triggered by mass protests over high electricity bills, low incomes and monopoly practices. As it was voted in by a weak majority, it is prone to face public discontent because a large part of the Bulgarian voters weres left without a parliamentary representation. In addition, the BSP-MRF ruling coalition depends on a fragile support from radical Ataka, as the election's winner, centre-right CEDB, remained in opposition.

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