Bulgaria caretaker government appointed until July election

SOFIA, Bulgaria — Bulgaria on Tuesday moved to quell a political crisis by appointing a retired general as interim prime minister until an election is held in July.

Stefan Yanev, 61, will lead a caretaker government whose main task will be to restore stability in a nation shaken by monthlong anti-government protests and political bickering in a short-lived, deeply fractured parliament.

Yanev, a retired brigadier general who has served the last four years as security advisor to President Rumen Radev, is an alumnus of the National War College in Washington. He also was defense minister in the previous caretaker government appointed by Radev in 2017.

The new premier will be backed by a Cabinet of experts for his main tasks — to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and organize a fair election in the country, which is a member of the European Union and NATO.

The president’s office announced that Radev will dissolve parliament Wednesday and set an election for July 11.

Radev’s move comes after the inconclusive vote in April produced a fragmented parliament, where the center-right GERB party of three-time Prime Minister Boyko Borissov scored best in the election, but public anger over graft and poverty downsized its support to 26%.

Attempts by Borissov and by the second- and third-largest parties all failed to produce a viable coalition government.

Analysts predict the July election could have a similar outcome, which would fuel political instability that could hinder the EU’s poorest member’s ability to effectively tap the bloc’s coronavirus recovery fund.