Embattled Premier Warns Against General Strike
SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) _ Premier Andrei Lukanov, under growing pressure to step down in the face of political turmoil and economic trouble, warned Sunday that a threatened strike would only make things worse.
The opposition trade union federation Podkrepa said it would go ahead with a general strike on Monday if Lukanov does not resign by then.
In a televised statement Sunday evening, Lukanov called the planned strike ″an extreme act,″ and said it could have serious consequences.
He urged Bulgarians ″not to support the adventurers who, in their greed for power, are prepared to push Bulgaria onto the fatal path of civic conflict.″
The main trade union confederation said Sunday it would not back the strike.
The opposition alliance, Union of Democratic Forces, said it would hold a rally Tuesday in support of the strike. A rally planned for Sunday did not take place.
The continuing economic decline and shortages of basic foods and consumer goods have led to growing demands for Lukanov’s resignation. There were daily demonstrations against the government over the past week.
Lukanov and his government of former Communists narrowly survived a no- confidence vote in Parliament on Friday. It capped months of wrangling between the governing Socialists and the opposition over how to revive the economy and end the political stalemate.
The Socialist Party, the successor to the former Communist Party, won June elections.
On Sunday, small groups of protesters marched through Sofia and some tried to block streets as anti-government demonstrators had done for an hour Saturday. Police patrolled, some in riot gear.
″God won’t fill the shops, but the strike will certainly empty them,″ Lukanov warned. Many staples are already rationed or not available, and an energy crisis has led to periodic power cuts.
Lukanov said the government had taken all legal measures to ensure that transport, communications, medical services and deliveries of basic goods would not be interrupted.
In a separate television appearance, the leader of the Podkrepa trade union, Konstantin Trenchev, rejected government claims that the strike would be illegal because of its political nature.
Trenchev said a government must resign if it cannot secure a minimum standard of living for its population.
Earlier, opposition and government leaders said they should talk about forming a coalition. Lukanov appeared to concur, saying it was necessary to ″find a formula for the cooperation between the political forces in the next week.″
Ivailo Trifonov of the president’s office said on state radio that neither of the two main political forces could govern alone now.
″It is necessary that the Socialist Party and the Union of Democratic Forces sit at the negotiating table as quickly as possible to seek a way out″ of the crisis, he said.
The Socialists hold 210 seats in Parliament. The opposition Union of Democratic Forces has 144 seats.