Bulgaria PM urges end to political bickering to avoid unrest

Bulgaria's caretaker prime minister urged political parties Tuesday to stop bickering over a wiretapping scandal ahead of snap elections next month, which he hinted could renew popular unrest.

"Bulgaria's democracy is sick. The political parties tend to generate scandals rather than projects for solving the crisis," Marin Raykov told a joint press conference with chief prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov.

After massive anti-poverty and corruption protests in February and March ousted conservative premier Boyko Borisov, "the people from the streets went home.

"But they did not forgive or forget," said Raykov, hinting they could take to the streets again.

"They just gave a chance to the political class. They expect solutions not scandals," he added.

Campaigning ahead of May 12 elections has been marred by allegations of illegal wiretapping by the former government. Recordings of Borisov as well as other top politicians, prosecutors and businessmen have been leaked to the media.

This has led to mutual mud-slinging from opposing parties.

Four senior interior ministry surveillance officials have been indicted for allegedly facilitating unregulated wiretapping dating back to 2009.

Sofia's long-time city prosecutor Nikolay Kokinov was also forced to quit after being caught on one of the tapes discussing a bribery probe against ex-farming minister Miroslav Naydenov with Borisov and Naydenov himself.

This raised questions over judicial independence.

The prosecution has yet to question the three, verify the authenticity of the recording and decide whether to press any charges, country prosecutor Tsatsarov said Tuesday.

Polls show the scandals have increased the share of undecided voters, although Borisov's GERB party is still tipped to win the elections ahead of the opposition Socialists.