Maya Manolova Takes Over as Bulgaria's National Ombudsman

Domestic | October 20, 2015, Tuesday // 14:03|  views

Maya Manolova (L) and (Konstantin Penchev), the new and the old Ombudsman of Bulgaria, attending a special "transition" ceremony on October 20, 2015. BGNES

Maya Manolova, a former socialist MP and one-time Deputy Parliament Speaker, has assumed her duties as the National Ombudsman of Bulgaria.

At a ceremony also attended by Orthodox Church Members, she has taken over from Kostantin Penchev.

Just a few hours into her term, Manolova is already staring with "real work" by meeting members of non-profit organizations of people with disabilities, parents of children with disabilities, and several associations of stockbreeders who demonstrated on Monday demanding an increase in state subsidies.

Elected in an unprecedented secret vote in July, Manolova has drawn criticism from political opponents, who point out she cannot defend the interests of citizens, having become one of the socialist-liberal government's de-facto spokespeople during the mass demonstrations in the summer of 2013.

Junior coalition partner Reformist Bloc has repeatedly portrayed her as a symbol of the political "status quo" that it says has been dominating Bulgaria for more than a decade.

Main ruling GERB party, however, has hinted a number of times it backs her candidacy.

An organization called Protest Network and other activist groups held during the ceremony a demonstration against her assuming of office.

"[We are against the] mafia" and "Ombudshame" (literally Ombudsram in Bulgarian) - this is what the big placard and the smaller posters read at a demonstration against the election of Maya Manolova as national Ombudsman. The world Ombudsram is a neologism coined out of the word "shame", or sram in Bulgarian, the position of "Ombudsman" itself.

"Less than two years ago she was ready, in the name of narrowly political ambitions, to hit people, to stimulate conflicts between police [and citizens], she gathered [counter]-protesters... and this is not the person who should defend the rights of oppressed Bulgarian citizens," one of the activists is quoted by the Bulgarian National Radio as saying.

The activist calls the election "a political appointment" granting power to "an exceptional lobbyist".

Protest Network maintains Manolova was the driving force behind the so-called "counter-protests", gatherings by supporters of the Bulgarian Socialist Party during the 2013 demonstrations where participants spoke in defense of the BSP's government.

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Tags: Maya Manolova, Konstantin Penchev, Ombudsman, orthodox church


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