Maya Manolova Elected Bulgaria's National OmbudsmanDomestic | July 30, 2015, Thursday // 12:10| views
Maya Manolova, from the BSP, is one of the two contenders to take over as National Ombudsman of Bulgaria. Photo by BGNES
Bulgarian lawmakers have elected socialist party MP Maya Manolova National Ombudsman, the chairman of her party has said.
Mihail Mikov has made his comments, quoted by daily 24 Chasa, as ballots are still being counted in the single secret voting procedure arranged under Bulgaria's legislation.
MPs voted on Thursday morning to choose the next Ombudsman between two contenders. These were Manolova and incumbent Konstantin Penchev who is vying for a second term in office.
Manolova received 129 votes from MPs, while 82 cast a ballot for Penchev, Mikov has said. Twelve ballots were declared void.
The vote took place amid speculation that there had been an agreement between the main ruling party GERB of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and the opposition that Manolova should take over from Penchev, claims both consistently denied.
Manolova, a Deputy Parliament Speaker in the previous legislature, has traditionally been among the most active lawmakers from the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), known for her fervent rhetoric and frequent attacks on GERB's legislative moves.
In 2013, she was subject to much criticism from GERB and right-wing parties over her involvement in the so-called "Kostinbrod affair" which, the BSP claims, involved the printing of 350 000 fake ballots GERB was intending to use to manipulate the May 2013 early elections. Lawmakers from GERB and the Reformist Bloc maintain the affair was a frame-up.
The new Ombusman will now have to quit the BSP in order to maintain the impartiality required by an office which is designed to serve as a link between citizens and institutions, fighting social injustice.
An Ombudsman also provides the connection between citizens and the Constitutional Court and is able to refer to the top court over legislation which violates certain rights and freedoms.
Under the law the Ombudsman is also able to refer to the Prosecutor's Office when suspecting a criminal offense was committed.
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