Bulgaria govt ups pressure on president

Bulgaria's parliament began debating an unprecedented motion to remove President Parvanov from office.

Bulgaria govt ups pressure on president

Bulgaria's parliament began debating an unprecedented motion on Wednesday to remove President Georgi Parvanov from office amid mounting bickering between the far-rightist government and the Socialist head of state.

Lawyers and analysts say even if the motion draws the required approval of two-thirds of deputies, it will be rejected by the constitutional court, which has the final word, due to a lack of sound reasons for impeachment.

Political analysts say attacking the Socialist president, who has criticised the government for chaotic economic policy, is intended to restore support for the ruling GERB party hurt by a deepening recession in the poorest European Union nation.

GERB accused Parvanov, whose post is mainly ceremonial, of violating "constitutional norms and principles" after he published a transcript of a meeting with Finance Minister Simeon Djankov recorded without the latter's knowledge.

The conflict flared after Djankov was asked on a TV talk show earlier this month whether he had claimed that Parvanov, whose second and final term as president expires next year, was a "young billionaire" and had luxury properties abroad.

Djankov denied saying such things but quipped that Parvanov, 52, was "definitely not young". Parvanov called for the minister's resignation and Djankov met the president in person to clear up what he called a misunderstanding.

Parvanov later published the transcript and accused the cabinet of Prime Minister Boiko Borisov, the GERB party leader, of losing control over the economy.

Far-right, GERB, and its rightist allies, who have a majority in the 240-strong chamber, responded by submitting to parliament the first motion in the Balkan country's history seeking the early termination of office of the head of state.

The motion also says Parvanov abused his powers by making politically biased statements while he was supposed to be president of all Bulgarians. Parvanov denies any wrongdoing.

Bulgaria's Ombudsman, Ginyo Ganev and other lawyers have said the president has not violated the constitution nor committed treason -- the only two grounds for impeachment.

"High popularity rating"

The constitutional court will have one month to rule if the motion is approved by parliament later on Wednesday.

"To maintain public support GERB needs strong polarisation," said Kiril Avramov of Political Capital think-tank in Sofia.

"GERB's team was put together to fight corruption... but suddenly they found themselves having to fight an economic crisis and they are no longer in their element," he added.

GERB came to power promising radical change to regain EU trust damaged by Sofia's failure to tackle graft. But support has fallen due to growing unemployment and an economic contraction of 5 percent last year.

In a sign of his determination to stamp out corruption, Borisov forced Health Minister Bozhidar Nanev to resign on Tuesday after prosecutors charged him with graft over drug contracts to fight swine flu. Nanev, who faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted, denies the accusation.

Parvanov has kept a high popularity rating of around 48 percent, even though the previous Socialist-led coalition he had put together was voted out last July amid accusations of incompetence and high-level corruption.

The president, who helped transform the former communist party along European social democratic lines, has won respect for raising Bulgaria's image during its accession to NATO and the EU earlier this decade. Critics, however, say he appeared to be pulling the country into the Russian sphere of influence by lobbying for Moscow-backed energy projects in the past few years.


Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 31 Mart 2010, 16:20

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