More anti-government protests occur in Bulgaria

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgaria’s prime minister said Monday that Parliament’s appointment of a media mogul as the nation’s security chief was a mistake, but that his government will not resign over it.

Several thousand people took to the streets of Sofia, the capital, and other cities on Monday, the fourth day of demonstrations demanding that the government resign over the appointment of Delyan Peevski, who has no experience in security, as the head of Bulgaria’s national security agency.

Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski, whose government came to power two weeks ago, said the legislature’s appointment, made on Friday after no debate, was a mistake, and that he will consult with the public before a new security chief is appointed.

Citing the protests, Peevski announced Saturday that he will resign. Oresharski said Monday that he has accepted that, but the final decision is Parliament’s.

Peevski’s mother, Irena Krasteva, owns several dailies, weeklies and television stations in Bulgaria, but he is believed to have a strong influence over their editorial policies.

Street protests in February against high energy bills, poverty and corruption brought down the previous center-right government of Prime Minister Boiko Borisov.

The current government, backed by the Socialists and a smaller ethnic Turkish party, was formed after a May 12 election. Together the two groups have 120 seats in the 240-member Parliament, which makes it difficult for them to reform the country’s ailing economy.

On Monday, several thousand people rallied in front of government headquarters in Sofia to demand the government step down. Police stepped-up security, cordoning off the building with metal barriers, but the demonstrations have been peaceful.

Blowing whistles and waving the national flag, the protesters shouted slogans such as “Red Garbage!” ”Mafia!” and “Resignation!” They demanded more transparency from government.

Many of the protesters said they have had enough of the “behind-the-scenes” deals involving politicians and powerful businessmen they accuse of corruption. The demonstrators demanded early elections now.

President Rosen Plevneliev said he will convene the national security council on Thursday and called on all parties to come up with solutions to end the political crisis.

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