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Bulgaria parliament approves govt reshuffle amid protests

SOFIA, July 24 – Bulgaria’s parliament on Friday appointed Kiril Ananiev as the new finance minister in the cabinet of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, in a reshuffle aimed at appeasing anti-corruption protestors seeking the resignation of the whole government.

Some 116 lawmakers in the 240-seat parliament also approved new economy, health, interior and tourism ministers in the centre-right government, which took office in 2017. Eighty-nine deputies voted against the reshuffle.

Ananiev, 65, who has been a deputy finance minister in four different governments since 1998, will be tasked with overseeing the state coffers during an expected economic downturn triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. Until the reshuffle, Ananiev was health minister in Borissov’s government.

Deputies from the main opposition Socialist party chanted “Resign!” and “More!” during a parliamentary debate on the reshuffle, in support of the street protests that have been rocking the Balkan country for two weeks.

On Thursday, several thousand mainly young Bulgarians marched in downtown Sofia and denounced the reshuffle as a “joke”. They accuse Borissov of failing to sever links between graft-prone officials and powerful local tycoons.

More protests are planned later on Friday. (Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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