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Pro-Western alliance seeks allies after triumph in Bulgaria elections

April 21, 1997

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) _ Leaders of a pro-Western party that won big in weekend elections met today to discuss bringing others into the government, hoping a broad coalition will make imposing painful economic reforms easier.

With 52 percent of the vote counted in Saturday’s elections, the United Democratic Forces, an anti-communist alliance led by Ivan Kostov, won its first outright majority in the 240-seat National Assembly.

According to preliminary results, the UDF won 136 seats. Socialists, the former communists, plunged from 125 to 58 seats.

Leaders of Kostov’s movement, the main component in the victorious alliance, met today to prepare for negotiations with possible coalition partners.

Alexander Tomov’s Euro-Left, which gained 14 seats, is the most likely partner. Other possibilities include the mainly ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms, which picked up 19 seats, and the Bulgarian Business Bloc, which won 12 seats.

The UDF will start consulting with parties on Tuesday, Kostov said at a news conference.

He also announced a draft declaration outlining principles for the government, including compliance with international financial institutions’ requirements for $1.2 billion in aid to the impoverished Balkan nation by the end of the year. Other key issues include fighting organized crime and corruption and working toward membership in the European Union and NATO.

After a month of street protests ousted the Socialists on Feb. 4, popular Sofia Mayor Stefan Sofiyanski was picked to head a UDF caretaker government. That government is expected to remain in office another month.

Foreshadowing a series of painful economic measures, Sofiyanski’s Cabinet today decontrolled food prices, except for some staple foods. Sofiyanski began to clean up the the economic and political mess, starting corruption prosecutions of some senior officials.

Most of the ministers in any new coalition government are certain to come from Kostov’s party. A few members of the caretaker government _ Economics Minister Krasimir Angarski, Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev and Industry Minister Alexander Bozhkov _ may retain their posts.

Several Bulgarian newspapers reported that Nadezhda Mihailova, Kostov’s 35-year-old deputy, may become foreign minister.

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