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Bulgaria's political turmoil deepens as two key ministers quit

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
The Prime Minister of Bulgaria Kiril Petkov has vowed that his coalition can still govern the country.
The Prime Minister of Bulgaria Kiril Petkov has vowed that his coalition can still govern the country.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

Bulgaria's prime minister Kiril Petkov says he will move forward with a minority government despite losing his parliamentary majority.

Three ministers from the populist There Is Such A People party (ITN) -- including diplomatic chief Teodora Genchovska -- withdrew from the Bulgarian government last week.

On Monday, Bulgaria's foreign and energy ministers -- Teodora Genchovska and Alexander Nikolov -- also resigned, deepening the political turmoil.

ITN leader Slavi Trifonov has accused the Bulgarian leader of leading the country toward bankruptcy by raising new debt and proposing to revise the state budget.

Trifonov also claimed that the prime minister had ignored Bulgaria’s national interests by making concessions to neighbouring North Macedonia.

Sofia has been blocking the opening of EU accession negotiations with Skopje since November 2020 because of historical disputes on language.

"I am withdrawing our ministers to put an end to this coalition, to this agony," the former singer announced on Facebook.

The withdrawal of one of the four coalition parties threatened to destabilise the centrist government.

The ruling four-party coalition commands 134 seats in the 240-seat National Assembly, but without the support of 25 ITN lawmakers, it would be left short of a majority.

But Petkov said he was "optimistic" that his centrist PP party and its two remaining coalition partners could still govern.

“A minority government is better than one that is under constant pressure and extortion [from a coalition partner],” he told reporters on Wednesday.

But analysts have raised fears that the ITN withdrawal could plunge the EU's poorest nation into a fresh political crisis amid high inflation rates due to the war in Ukraine.

Petkov was only appointed as Bulgaria's Prime Minister after three parliamentary elections in 2021 failed to appoint a government.

The 42-year-old has pledged to reform the EU member state and on Wednesday reiterated his goal of "zero tolerance for corruption".