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Bulgaria: President-Elect Proposes Government Of Experts

Sofia, December 9 (RFE/RL) - Amid growing public anxiety about the economic and political situation, Petar Stoyanov, the president-elect of Bulgaria,, has proposed a government of experts be formed. Stoyanov's proposal also calls for the disbanding of the Parliament in six months to allow for new elections.

Our Sofia correspondent reports Stoyanov's move follows a call for early elections from the opposition group, the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF).

Bulgaria's Parliament is dominated by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) with an absolute majority. The mandate of this Parliament is for two more years, but the Socialists are rapidly losing support among the population.

There is also continuing debate over the establishment of a so-called "currency board." Most believe the move is now inevitable.

The UDF has, in the past, opposed the formation of such a currency board. However, after a week of consultations in Washington, with International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and U.S. officials, UDF Chairman Ivan Kostov says he can broadly support the creation of a currency board in Bulgaria -- but not one implemented by the current Socialist Government or by the leadership of the Central Bank.

The IMF suggested the creation of such a body to counteract Bulgaria's rapidly rising rate of inflation and to try to halt the depreciation of the currency, the lev.

Kostov today presents a plan of action to the UDF's leadership in Sofia. The plan of action is expected to include a proposal to seek an immediate vote of no-confidence in the government of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov. Kostov has said that with a reasonable program, the UDF can expect support of some Socialist deputies.

Meanwhile, as Bulgaria's bleak economic situation is worsened by a slow privatization process and a $10 billion foreign debt, Parliament approved a $295 million extension to the government's fiscal deficit last week on first reading. A second reading is scheduled tomorrow.

Robert Lyle and Carolyn Tang also contributed to this story.