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Bulgarian outgoing premier in hospital, new self-immolation

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Bulgaria's outgoing Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has been hospitalised for severe hypertension a week after resigning his post following mass nationwide protests, hospital officials said Tuesday.

Meanwhile a man set himself on fire in protest, the third such immolation in less than 10 days and a sign that frustration and economic despair remained high even with Borisov out of office.

Borisov, 53, was admitted on Monday afternoon with extremely high blood pressure at 190/110, said Lyubomir Spasov, director of the Lozenetz government hospital.

"Mr. Borisov will have to stay in hospital for a day or two for observation," Spasov said.

"We are keeping his high blood pressure in check with drugs."

Bulgarian media found out about Borisov's hospitalisation after he failed to attend a national security council meeting Tuesday to discuss the security situation in the country following widespread protests.

Tens of thousands of people have taken to Bulgaria's streets in recent weeks to protest poor living standards, including high electricity bills, and corruption.

This led to Borisov announcing he would step down in a surprise move last Wednesday. Parliament accepted his resignation on Thursday.

This has not stopped the widespread discontent however, with a 53-year-old unemployed father of five setting himself on fire outside the mayor's office in the central town of Radnevo Tuesday, police said.

He was hospitalised with burns over 71 percent of his body.

Last week already, an unemployed mentally ill man died after setting himself on fire in the central town of Veliko Tarnovo, while another 36-year-old man was in a coma with widespread burns after self-immolating in the Black Sea city of Varna.

Bulgaria last saw such acts of protest in the early 1990s.

A man who began a hunger strike in Sofia on Monday was meanwhile detained by police.

The incidents sparked a wave of compassion in social media fora, with new protests called for Tuesday evening in Sofia "in support of those people who had the courage to burn themselves or starve in the name of Bulgaria's freedom."

President Rosen Plevneliev handed Borisov a mandate to form a new government Monday, in line with procedure.

But with neither the ruling GERB party nor any other parliamentary faction willing to form a new cabinet under the current parliament, the country is headed for snap elections, likely to be in late April or mid-May, Plevneliev said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130226/bulgarian-outgoing-premier-hospital-new-self-immolation