Bulgarian PM to resign later this month

The Bulgarian prime minister has announced he will resign at the end of July, ahead of an early election aimed at ending months of political crisis.

Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski said on Thursday that he would submit his resignation to parliament "on July 23, 24 or 25," and that lawmakers "will be able to vote" on the decision.

The EU's poorest country has faced renewed political instability since Oresharski's year-old government lost the backing of a key ally last month.

Oresharski, whose Socialist minority government is the second to collapse in less than 18 months, had been expected to resign after agreeing to hold snap elections in October, but has kept quiet about an exact date.

He only took office in May 2013 but has faced months of protests over his cabinet's apparently close links with oligarchs.

The demonstrations recently subsided, but controversy over a Russian-backed gas pipeline has stirred tensions between the Socialists and their key ally in parliament, the Turkish minority MRF party, which recently withdrew its support.

Without the MRF, the government has been unable to pass legislation and was doomed to collapse.

The conservative opposition GERB party and the nationalist Ataka party added to Oresharski's troubles and left parliament this week, vowing to only return to vote his resignation.

In a move to avert a full-blown political crisis, an agreement was reached between the government and the opposition to appoint a caretaker cabinet on August 6 and hold a snap vote on October 5.

Political uncertainty in Bulgaria coincided with runs on two Bulgarian banks last week that prompted urgent measures by the central bank and the government to avert a banking crisis.

The early elections are expected to return to power the conservative GERB party, whose leader -- ex-premier Boyko Borisov -- was himself forced to resign in February 2013 after massive street protests against poverty and corruption.