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Bulgaria's Parliament elects Plamen Oresharski as new prime minister

SOFIA, Bulgaria - Bulgaria's Parliament on Wednesday elected Plamen Oresharski as the country's new prime minister, ending a three-month long political stalemate after the previous centre-right government resigned in February amid social protests. Lawmakers voted 120-97 to elect 53-year-old Oresharski, a former finance minister not associated with any party, to head the Cabinet.

Bulgaria's PM-designate pledges help for poor

By Tsvetelia Tsolova SOFIA (Reuters) - The man most likely to form Bulgaria's next government pledged on Sunday to spend more to help society's most deprived, but said he would keep public debt low enough to maintain a currency peg to the euro. Plamen Oresharski, 53, offers the best chance for ending a political stalemate that has dragged on since the government quit in February in the face of protests against austerity measures in the European Union's poorest country.

Bulgaria orders state-owned companies to diversify deposits

Bulgaria's caretaker government approved Wednesday new regulations requiring state-owned companies to diversify their deposits in local banks to end the current concentration of funds in one institution. The new rules oblige all companies with a government stake of over 50 percent to hold no more than 25 percent of their funds in one lender. Companies were given a six-month deadline to comply.

Pakistan, Bulgaria should enhance relations in different fields

Daniel Hristov, Bulgarian Head of Consular Department, Wednesday, said that Pakistan and Bulgaria should expand and strengthen their bilateral relations in various fields including economy, trade, culture and education.The two countries should expand political consultations while Pakistan can make use of Bulgaria’s solid experience in coal power generation to exploit Thar Coal, said Daniel Hristov, Head of Consular Department, Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria.

Bulgaria orders power output cuts amid sector troubles

Bulgaria's official electricity system operator ordered producers to lower capacity on Thursday to prevent the shaky system from overheating amid sharply dropping consumption and exports. Citing "an impossibility to maintain the balance between production and consumption", the operator ordered cuts on all power plants. It did not say how much capacity should be cut or for how long. The country's sole nuclear power plant at Kozloduy announced shortly afterward that it had lowered capacity at its two 1,000-megawatt units to 750 and 550 megawatts.

Bulgaria probes power companies

Bulgaria's anti-monopoly watchdog said Thursday that it had raided the offices of the country's three foreign-owned electricity distributors as part of a probe for suspected infringements of competition rules. The commission for the protection of competition said in a statement that Czech utilities CEZ and Energo-Pro and Austrian EVN are suspected of "applying identical practices with the aim to hinder the change of electricity suppliers by consumers." The commission will aim to establish if these market practices are coordinated, it added.

Bulgaria pushes for measures to protect power system

Bulgaria's energy ministry on Tuesday urged tighter controls and penalties for power companies as well as new rules on exports, to keep the country's energy system from overheating as consumption drops. "The energy system is very sick, riddled by inefficiency, overcapacity and overproduction," caretaker Economy and Energy Minister Asen Vasilev told journalists in the wake of nationwide protests spawned by high energy prices.

Austria's EVN takes Bulgaria to arbitration over price cut

Austrian power group EVN announced Tuesday that it was launching arbitration proceedings against Bulgaria after Sofia cut electricity prices for households following major protests. "EVN today informed the Republic of Bulgaria about its intention to commence proceedings... in order to safeguard its Bulgarian investments," the Austrian firm said in a statement. "This announcement comes as the result of various actions taken by the regulatory authorities and other state agencies... (which) reduce the proceeds from the sale of electric energy," it added.

Bulgaria's new caretaker PM promises fair elections

Bulgaria's new caretaker prime minister on Wednesday vowed to organise free and fair elections in May and ensure financial stability, as his technocrat government took office. Marin Raykov, a former deputy foreign minister who was appointed interim premier on Tuesday after mass protests forced the government's resignation, said the vote would be "democratic and transparent". He said he would set up an election board with representatives of the main parties and protesters to oversee the organisation of the May 12 election and make sure there are no irregularities.

CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Bulgaria president taps diplomat as interim PM -sources

(Corrects to show Raikov was deputy foreign minister, not finance minister, in paragraph 4) * Aim is to shore up confidence after protests felled government * Ambassador Marin Raikov is former deputy finance minister By Tsvetelia Tsolova
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