Bulgarian protesters reject first attempt at dialogue

Bulgarian protesters walked out of a first attempt at talks with the country's president on Friday, a week after massive street rallies against poverty and corruption forced the right-wing government to resign.

"We will not sit at the same table with those against whom we are fighting. We leave (the talks) to fight till the end," youth leader Angel Slavchev said after quitting the meeting with President Rosen Plevneliev.

"The format is wrong. It will not lead to anything good for Bulgaria," added the leader of the left-wing KNSB trade union, Plamen Dimitrov, who also exited the talks.

Following Prime Minister Boyko Borisov's shock resignation last week -- brought upon by sometimes violent street protests -- Plevneliev proposed forming a civil council to work with a caretaker cabinet until snap elections on May 12.

On Friday, he invited 35 representatives of the protesters, key trade unions, consumer rights organisations, industrialists, economists and other non-government groups to discuss setting up the council.

The protesters however argued that the parliamentary parties should join together to form a consensus cabinet until July, when Borisov's mandate would have normally ended, and take the country out of the crisis.

They urged citizens to join a new wave of countrywide street rallies on the country's national day on Sunday.

Hundreds of thousands of Bulgarians have taken to the streets daily across the country over the past three weeks to protest against high electricity bills, monopolies, low salaries, corruption and cronyism in the European Union's poorest country.

The state power regulator proposed on Friday to cut electricity prices for all household consumers by an average of 7.0 percent from March 5, but it was unclear whether the measure would be enough to ease the protests.