Bulgaria PM pitches overhaul, to resign if lawmakers approve

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgaria’s embattled prime minister said Friday that he would step down if lawmakers approve his plans for the election of a grand national assembly that would push through constitutional amendments to overhaul the country’s political system.

In a televised address to the nation, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov tried to appease protesters demanding the resignation of his government and Bulgaria’s chief prosecutor. The protesters who have been on the streets for a second month accuse the government officials of links to the mafia, corrupt practices and suppressing freedom of speech.

Borissov proposed measures to make the work of Bulgaria’s parliament more efficient by cutting the number of lawmakers serving in the National Assembly from the current 240 to 120, as well as to make all actions taken by the chief prosecutor subject to stricter accountability.

“It is time not only to change the political system, but to restart the country,” Borissov said.

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A two-thirds vote in parliament is required to call an election for a special Grand National Assembly that would consider proposed constitutional amendments. Meeting the threshold appears to be a difficult task.

Borissov argued Friday that convening the special legislature would itself be a pro-democracy act.

“A Grand National Assembly is a unique opportunity, not just to restart our democracy, but to do it while the people enjoy the broadest political representation,” Borissov said.

He said he would “step down as prime minister the same day as parliament decides on such elections.”

The initial reaction of some protest organizers was to reject Borissov’s proposals as a panicked attempt to remain in office until his term ends in March.

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