Sofia Beefs Up Police Presence near Parliament, Tensions Expected

Domestic | August 16, 2013, Friday // 08:36|  views

Policemen have lined up the streets close to parliament and have nearly completely blocked access to the Cathedral Alexander Nevsky, in close proximity to the National Assembly. File photo by Sofia Photo Agency

Downtown Sofia woke up with increased police presence on Friday morning as parliament is expected to vote on President Rosen Plevneliev’s veto on a controversial budget revision.

Policemen have lined up the streets close to parliament and have nearly completely blocked access to the Cathedral Alexander Nevsky, in close proximity to the National Assembly.

The parliament is surrounded by gendarmerie cars, so that protestors will not be able to see the members of parliament as they come into the building.

The Bulgarian Parliament will hold a special plenary sitting Friday morning to discuss and vote on Bulgaria President Rosen Plevneliev's veto on a recent budget update.

The emergency mid-recess sitting is called for 10 am, as an anti-cabinet protest rally is planned to be assembled at 8 am.

Since June 14, Bulgarian capital Sofia has been gripped by strong ralllies against the new government of PM Plamen Oresharski, which however have abated during the holiday month of August.

Protesters are also largely against the budget revision, which, if implemented, would see the government taking a BGN 1 B loan to be largely used for paying arrears to businesses and increased social benefits.

President Plevneliev has motivated his veto by what he has called the lack of transparency and the excessive amount of discretionary spending in the revision.

Bulgaria's former ruling GERB party, which have the largest group in parliament, vowed that they will oppose the revision in plenary Friday.

In plenary Friday, ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party and Movement for Rights and Freedoms will have to rely on support from nationalists Ataka in order to be able to gain an absolute majority and surmount the veto.

Ataka have not said which way they will vote, and their MPs were not present at Thursday's sitting of the finance committee, which once again approved the budget revision.

But there are reports that the nationalists will help overruling the presidential veto.

To overturn the veto, Parliament needs an absolute majority of 121 MPs.

Various Bulgarian politicians, including socialist Parliament Speaker Mihail Mikov and ex-Speaker Tsetska Tsacheva from opposition GERB, have styled the veto vote as a test of trust for the Oresharski cabinet.

President Rosen Plevneliev has said he will not be present at the veto debate and vote Friday, although he was officially invited by Mikov.


Tags: parliament, Movement for Rights and Freedoms, Bulgarian Socialist Party, Ataka, GERB, veto, Rosen Plevneliev, budget revision, budget update, Plamen Oresharski, sofia, Bulgaria, Bulgarian

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