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Bulgaria: Opposition Won't Accept Socialist-Led Caretaker Government

Sofia, 14 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - Bulgarian National Radio reports that the country's anti-communist opposition has decided it will not accept a Socialist-led caretaker government that would rule the country until parliamentary elections are conducted.

Meanwhile, the opposition Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) today also demanded early elections by May as the only way out of a political crisis that turned violent at the weekend. The Socialist leadership says new elections shouldn't be held before next year.

Meanwhile, out-going President Zhelyu Zhelev says the thousands of demonstrators who continue to protest against the current Socialist government are not supporters of any particular party. He said that the demonstrators are, in his words, "the representatives of a nation that has been fooled" by the former communists.

Zhelev says that allowing the Socialists to remain in power would split the country. He says he will delay issuing a mandate for a new Socialist government until tensions have eased.

The developments have serious ramifications for a country that badly needs to unblock loan disbursements from the International Monetary Fund to meet foreign debt payments in two weeks time. The IMF Sofia representative has said it will not continue negotiations on the loan disbursements until a new government is named.

The opposition UDF's President-elect, Peter Stoyanov, today appealed to both Socialists and opposition leaders to "listen to the voice of the protesting Bulgarian citizens" and begin a common search for ways to save the country.