Bulgaria protesters voice demands after toppling cabinet

Several dozen leaders of street protests that swept Bulgaria this week, forcing the right-wing government to resign, met on Saturday to formulate their demands as a new nationwide rally was called for Sunday.

"We are here because the government abdicated, the state is in an impasse," Doncho Dudev who led the protests in the central city of Stara Zagora said at a press conference in Sofia.

The protest leaders said they agreed on the need for constitutional changes with majority elections instead of the current proportional representation system and the possibility to sue and even sack the now immune lawmakers if they do not fulfil their duties.

A second group of protest leaders that also met in the southeastern city of Sliven on Saturday backed the same demands.

The wave of protests that shook Bulgaria over the past week was sparked by high electricity bills and deepening poverty in the EU's already poorest member state.

The protest leaders demanded on Saturday a moratorium on power bills, no value added tax on electricity and checks of all utility privatisation contracts.

"We are entrusted with a task, untypical for civil society -- to attack the problems that have built up over the past 23 years since the fall of communism, reducing ordinary people to beggars," Sofia protest coordinator Yanaki Ganchev said.

Even if participation in the rallies dropped from several thousand in the beginning to several hundred over the past three days, polls showed that between 85 and 92 percent of all Bulgarians supported the rallies.

The shock resignation of tough guy premier Boyko Borisov on Wednesday set in motion a process towards early elections between end-April and mid-May.

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev was expected to dissolve parliament by the end of next week and appoint a caretaker cabinet of experts to organise the vote.

"People want change. Their voice has to be heard and the political parties have to adapt to this new reality," Plevneliev said Friday.

He was expected to meet the crowd of protesters in Sofia on Sunday and hear their demands.