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Bulgarian president backs protests

Bulgaria’s president on Friday praised week-long protest rallies against corruption and a lack of transparency in the Balkan country and said politicians must heed the demonstrators’ demands for reform. Thousands of mainly younger, well-educated Bulgarians have been rallying in Sofia and other cities in the last seven days to demand the resignation of the three-week-old Socialist-led Cabinet over its bungled bid to impose a media mogul as head of national security without any debate. “I very much hope they will be heard and that this time the politicians really take responsible, clear and, I would say, brave decisions,” President Rosen Plevneliev told reporters in Sofia. Bowing to the protesters, Parliament has cancelled the appointment on Wednesday and Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski has apologized, but he refuses to quit, saying this would destabilize the European Union’s poorest member state and harm the economy. European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso called on the new prime minister on Friday to unify the country. “We know that the situation from a political point of view is polarized in Bulgaria,” Barroso said at a joint press conference with Oresharski, who was in Brussels for talks.