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Simeon II Named Bulgaria Premier

July 12, 2001

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) _ Bulgaria’s former king, Simeon II, was named Thursday to be the country’s next prime minister.

He will form Bulgaria’s next government after his party won a landslide victory in last month’s elections.

``With great emotion but with my typical sense of responsibilty, and having in mind the trust that the voters gave me on June 17, I accept this proposal,″ Simeon said after his party named him to be the next premier.

The decision was announced by the party’s floor leader in parliament, Plamen Panayotov, after a meeting with President Petar Stoyanov.

Stoyanov said that he would hand Simeon a mandate to form a new government on Sunday, and the former monarch will have another week to come up with a new Cabinet.

The chairman of parliament, Ognyan Gerdzhikov, said he would call an extraordinary session on July 24 to vote in the new Cabinet. Simeon’s party holds 120 seats in the 240-seat unicameral chamber, just one seat short of a simple majority.

Simeon and his National Movement won an impressive victory in the elections, promising to put an end to poverty, unemployment and other woes that engulfed Bulgaria at the demise of communism.

Simeon was crowned king of Bulgaria at the age of 6 in 1943 after the sudden death of his father, but lost his throne in a 1946 referendum widely believed to have been rigged by the communists. Simeon first returned to Bulgaria in 1996 after the fall of communism, but returned just three months ago to form his party.

During Simeon’s exile in Spain, he spent 13 years as chairman of the Spanish subsidiary of Thomson CSF, the French defense and electronics group recently renamed Thales SA.

He’s also worked as a consultant, forging connections with business leaders _ not to mention royal relatives across Europe _ that many hope he can use to attract investment to Bulgaria.

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