Bulgarians Attempt to Reach Consensus on Protest Demands
About sixty representatives of demonstrators from thirty Bulgarian cities have gathered in Sliven Saturday to coordinate their demands.
They are preparing a declaration for the nation-wide protest against the political model and unbearable utility bills, which is scheduled for Sunday.
The sitting is held in Sliven over its central location and because Bulgaria does not equal Sofia, the organizers say.
Media have not been allowed at the meeting. Participants have signed a declaration they do not belong to any political party. Their names will be published on Facebook. Only one person left voluntarily when asked to sign.
The organizers further say they want to distinguish from any political party; would not establish a new one, even an NGO, and would not participate in any consultations or round tables with politicians. Their goal is to get to know each other, draft a plan for common action, and eliminate suspicious people that would try to score political gains from the rallies.
If they decide to join the consultations with the President, they would elect representatives.
The demands to be formulated at the meeting will almost certainly list a new Constitution and including citizens in the rule of the country.
Police were called to remove two people from the event – one for carrying a gas pistol, and another for being linked with the far-right, nationalist party Ataka. Both have voiced outrage and said they were the organizers of the rallies in Sliven and should be present.
On Sunday, 20 000 are expected to protest in the capital Sofia, 30 000 in the Black Sea city of Varna, with a total of 200 000 across the country.
Bulgarians in Spain, Germany and the UK will also stage protest rallies.
Meetings of demonstrator are also being held Saturday in the central city of Gabrovo and the capital Sofia.
The Sofia organizers, the newly-formed Free Choice Association, have invited representatives of political parties and NGOs, however.
About 300 people are in attendance. They are debating issues such as drafting a Civil Participation Bill providing a 50% civil quota in all institutions; returning 51% of the shares of power utilities to the State; closing the Bulgarian Energy Holding, BEH, for draining the energy sector, and summoning a Grand General Assembly.
The Association also says they will aim to counter attempts to divide protesting Bulgarians with political claims.
Protest rallies against the high utility bills are being held Saturday in the second largest city of Plovdiv and in the Black Sea city of Varna.