Bulgaria parliament resumes work despite protests

Bulgarian lawmakers succeeded in opening parliament for the first time this week on Thursday, defying vegetable-throwing protesters posted outside.

As many as 300 angry Bulgarians besieged the legislature in central Sofia in pouring rain to try to prevent lawmakers from entering and to press for the government's resignation, hoping for a repeat of the protest that forced the cancellation of Wednesday's session.

Tomatoes and cucumbers were thrown at the building as protesters shouted "Mafia!" "Red Garbage!" and "Resign!", but police fences barred the crowd's access to lawmakers.

During the session, parliament approved the appointments of two new vice premiers, Daniela Bobeva to oversee the economy and Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev as vice premier for interior and security affairs.

Thousands of Bulgarians -- sick of a political class they see as too dependent on shadowy oligarchs -- have taken to the streets every night since June 14, just four months after anti-poverty and corruption rallies ousted the previous conservative cabinet.

Public outrage this time was sparked by Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski's appointment -- which has since been withdrawn -- of a controversial media magnate as head of the country's top security agency.

In office for less than 30 days, Oresharski, known as a stern technocrat, has so far refused to resign.

But Wednesday's blockade showed his cabinet's dependence on the unpredictable ultra-nationalist party Ataka, when its deputies' refusal to brave the crowd forced the cancellation of the parliamentary session.

On Thursday, Ataka's flamboyant leader Volen Siderov urged the interior ministry to take harder action, including arrests, against what he called "a crowd of raging hooligans."