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Prime Minister Reshuffles Bulgarian Government Amid Anti-Government Protests

Thousands have demonstrated for almost two weeks in a row this month in the capital against the government's perceived favoritism of powerful oligarchs. 

SOFIA -- Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has replaced three key ministers in a reshuffle meant to appease weeks-long anti-corruption protests that have called for his resignation.

On July 23, two days after surviving a no-confidence vote, Borisov dismissed the ministers of finance, economy, and interior, whose resignations he had asked for last week to curb speculation that the three were serving the interests of controversial businessman and media owner Delyan Peevski, who is linked to the opposition MRF party.

The tourism minister was also sacked, Borisov said.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov
Prime Minister Boyko Borisov

The July 21 vote was the fifth no-confidence motion against Borisov's center-right coalition government since it took office in 2017. It was initiated by the opposition Socialists who accuse it of failing to fight endemic corruption.

After a meeting with his junior coalition partners, Borisov announced that Health Minister Kiril Ananiev, 65, will replace Vladislav Goranov as the new finance minister.

Ananiev has served as deputy finance minister under four different governments since 1998 and was briefly finance minister in a caretaker cabinet in early 2017. He has a reputation as an expert in budget drafting.

Kostadin Angelov, currently the director of Bulgaria's largest medical facility, the Alexandrovska Hospital in the capital, will take over the Health Ministry.

Interior Minister Mladen Marinov will be replaced by national police chief Hristo Terziiski, while Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov will cede his position to his deputy, Lachezar Borisov.

Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova will be replaced by Deputy Prime Minister Mariana Nikolova, Borisov said.

Thousands of mostly young people demonstrated for almost two weeks in a row this month in the capital against the government's perceived favoritism of powerful behind-the-scenes oligarchs.

Rallies were also held in Lovech, Haskovo, Plovdiv, Vratsa, Montana, Varna, Burgas, Kyustendil, and other cities.

Protesters accuse Borisov of turning a blind eye to endemic graft that has weakened state institutions and eroded the rule of law for the benefit of a few.

Borisov has vowed to carry out in full his third four-year mandate, which expires in March.

Bulgaria, the poorest European Union member, is also the most corrupt of the bloc's 27 members, according to Transparency International.

With reporting by Reuters
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