Bulgarian PM calls for constitutional overhaul, offers to resign

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov called on Friday for an overhaul of the constitution in an apparent effort to defuse weeks of anti-government protests by mostly younger Bulgarians weary of endemic corruption in the European Union member state. Three-times premier Borissov promised to resign if lawmakers approved his call for the election of a grand national assembly tasked with drafting amendments aimed, among other things, at improving the efficiency of the much-criticised judiciary. Thousands of Bulgarians have been rallying in central Sofia since early July to demand the resignation of Borissov and Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev.

Reuters August 15, 2020 01:13:26 IST
Bulgarian PM calls for constitutional overhaul, offers to resign

Bulgarian PM calls for constitutional overhaul offers to resign

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov called on Friday for an overhaul of the constitution in an apparent effort to defuse weeks of anti-government protests by mostly younger Bulgarians weary of endemic corruption in the European Union member state.

Three-times premier Borissov promised to resign if lawmakers approved his call for the election of a grand national assembly tasked with drafting amendments aimed, among other things, at improving the efficiency of the much-criticised judiciary.

Thousands of Bulgarians have been rallying in central Sofia since early July to demand the resignation of Borissov and Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev. Hundreds have set up tents on three major intersections in the capital.

"It is time not only to change the political system but to restart the country," Borissov, 61, leader of the centre-right GERB party, said in a televised national address.

"The unity, statesmanship and stability of the country are not just words for me," he said, adding that he understood the protesters' frustration but said it was being exploited by various political factions and local oligarchs.

The protesters swiftly dismissed his plan as an empty gesture and vowed to continue their campaign.

"The statement of Boyko Borissov, who has still not resigned, is yet another attempt to win time and shows fear," three informal leaders of the protests, who call themselves The Poisonous Trio, said in a statement.

CORRUPTION

The protesters accuse Borissov of eroding state institutions to serve the interests of private business interests and say Geshev has failed to bring any corrupt high-level officials to account.

Transparency International ranks Bulgaria as the most corrupt country in the 27-nation European Union.

Two thirds of Bulgaria's 240 deputies need to vote to approve calling an election for a grand national assembly.

It is not clear whether Borissov will be able to muster the support of two thirds of Bulgaria's 240 deputies needed to call an election of a grand national assembly.

Borissov's constitutional amendments would cut the mandate of the chief prosecutor to five years from seven and overhaul Bulgaria's top judicial body to boost its independence and the accountability of prosecutors and judges. It would also halve the number of parliamentary deputies to 120.

Political analysts said Borissov's plan could strengthen his position.

"If parliament approves it, it is good for him - he can quit with dignity. If it does not, he gets credit at least for trying. He also gains time and stays in office while taking over the main goals of the protests," said analyst Parvan Simeonov.

Borissov has previously said his coalition government should serve its full four-year term till next March to avoid plunging Bulgaria into "political chaos" during the coronavirus pandemic.

(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Gareth Jones)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.