Bulgaria's PM Warns of Vote-Buying Claims

Domestic | March 5, 2017, Sunday // 16:08|  views

File photo, BGNES

Claims of vote buying have been submitted in northwestern Bulgaria, the country's poorest region, interim Prime Minister Ognyan Gerdzhikov has said.

"There are signals reaching me" of "bags" already circulating in some regions, Gerdzhikov has explained in a reference to bags of money handed out or promised to people who "sell" their vote.

"[Law enforcement and security] services have already been informed and instructed" over the issues, Gerdzhikov has said at a briefing.

He has added that all preventive measures to mitigate vote buying have been enforced.

"The important thing is to create an invironment of zero tolerance to such exceptionally malicious practices that are shameful for Bulgaria," the Bulgarian National Radio quotes him as saying.

Caretaker governments of Bulgaria are mainly tasked with organizing elections after a government steps down and no other cabinet is formed out of a legislature.

But Gerdzhikov's interim administration has also drawn fire due to its reshuffles of high-profile officials, with some parties accusing it of conducting purges.

The Prime Minister, however, on Sunday defended the decision to appoint a new Chief of Defense who replaced an interim cadre, alongside other appointments.

"Yes, there are reshuffles. Nobody is subscribed to [an office]. These new appointments, as much as I am aware, are doing a wonderful job."

Asked about plans to submit Bulgaria's application to the Eurozone "waiting room", he warned authorities were only conducting "preliminary" studies to see when Sofia would enjoy support for the step from across the other European capitals.

"It is not my ambition this should happen by the end of the term. It is just that an issue is being raised that should be discussed and the right solution should be found in due course," Gerdzhikov has noted, backtracking from a previous position that it is his ambition to submit Bulgaria's candidacy for the ERM II mechanism, preceding accession to the single currency area.

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Tags: Ognyan Gerdzhikov, early election, Eurozone, ERM II


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