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Bulgaria: Socialists Boycott Parliament In Poll Protest

Sofia, 6 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - Bulgaria's ruling Socialists (BSP) are now boycotting Parliament after the success of a month-long campaign by the opposition (UDF) led the Socialists to give up their effort to form a government.

Opposition deputies returned to the legislature in Sofia today, but with just nine Socialist deputies present. National radio said the body was unable to produce a working quorum.

After 30 days of mass street protests by the opposition to demand a general election, President Petar Stoyanov Tuesday agreed to protesters' demand for early polls. A statement from the Democratic Left Coalition of the Socialists and their smaller allied parties said they had been ousted from power by undemocratic means.

The Socialists and their allies also said they would only take part in the session slated to discuss amendments to the electoral law, and they called on President Stoyanov to dissolve parliament by February 14. Stoyanov must appoint a caretaker Cabinet to keep the economy afloat and organize the elections, which are to be held no later than April 20.

Consultations on the caretaker government have already started and there are reports that Sofia Mayor Stefan Sofiyanski has agreed to take the head role. According to press reports, the government also will include several top advisers of President Stoyanov, as well as opposition deputies.

But opposition deputies concluded that the cabinet lineup is not yet ready and that only Stoyanov knows the names.