Bulgarian talks break down as police clash with protesters
January 11, 1997
Web posted at: 10:30 a.m. EST (1530 GMT)
SOFIA, Bulgaria (CNN) -- Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev
failed to reach an agreement Saturday with security chiefs
and political leaders on how to resolve the deepening
political crisis in his country, opposition leader Yordan
Sokolov, a parliamentary leader of the Union of Democratic
Forces party, said the failure to reach a compromise may
precipitate more clashes in the streets of the capital,
"These are desperate people and it is hard to control
their anger," Sokolov said.
In the worst violence since the collapse of one-party
Communist rule, dozens of demonstrators were injured Saturday
in a confrontation with riot police who were trying to free
legislators trapped in the parliament building since Friday.
Police used tear gas and clubs to disperse some 50,000
The demonstrators stormed the building Friday to confront
more than 100 legislators from Bulgaria's governing Socialist
Party and demand new elections. The protesters are
complaining of low wages, high inflation and rampant crime.
At one point, protesters formed a human chain around the
Shortly after the police cleared parliament, the government
sent reinforcements to surround the building. Additional
riot police were on the scene and interior ministry troops
were deployed to "guarantee the security" of government
institutions, according to a government statement.
On Friday, the president rejected the opposition's demands
and said his government will not back down. His Socialist
Party also refused to vote on a motion for fresh elections.
The opposition is calling for a nationwide strike and civil
The Socialist Party is midway through its parliamentary term,
but opponents say it has lost much public confidence because
of the worsening economy. A quarter of Bulgaria's banks are
in receivership, and triple-digit inflation has slashed real
Reuters contributed to this report.
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