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Bulgarian premier hints at resignation, but demands assembly first

Bulgaria's prime minister said on Friday he is prepared to accede to months of protests and step down - but only after lawmakers set up a system to elect a constitutional assembly with far-reaching powers.

Bulgaria’s prime minister said on Friday he is prepared to accede to months of protests and step down – but only after lawmakers set up a system to elect a constitutional assembly with far-reaching powers.

It was one of the first concessions Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has offered to the protesters who have massed since July 9 demanding his ruling coalition step down. The coalition has been in power since 2017 and elections are not scheduled until March.

Speaking on live television, Borisov made clear that no action can be taken until parliament decides on the make-up of the constitutional assembly first.

He added that his populist party, GERB, wants to submit a draft for a new constitution to the legislature. It would include proposed changes to the judiciary.

“It is time for responsibility and decisiveness,” Borisov said. “It is time for a new beginning.”

A constitutional assembly has been one of the main demands of the protesters. But they also want the resignation of chief prosecutor Ivan Geshev and have criticized the government’s dependency on oligarchs and what they call mafia-style behaviour.

In a first reaction to Borisov’s speech, protesters announced a continuation of their actions and demanded the resignation of the director of state TV broadcaster BNT.

The demand for new elections is supported by the Socialists and affiliated head of state

President Rumen Radev also backs new elections, as does the Socialist party, the descendants of the country’s communist party.

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