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article imageBulgaria parliament overrides president's veto of corruption bill

By AFP     Jan 12, 2018 in Politics

Bulgarian lawmakers on Friday voted to leave a contentious anti-corruption bill unchanged even after the country's president refused to sign it into law.

Bulgaria, which took over the European Union's rotating presidency on January 1, is the poorest country in the bloc and according to watchdog Transparency International also the most corrupt.

The bill, first approved by parliament in December, will merge several agencies into a single body to better oversee the fight against corruption among high-ranking officials.

The changes were demanded by Brussels, which closely monitors Sofia's progress on graft 11 years after joining the bloc.

However President Rumen Radev last week refused to sign the bill, questioning its efficiency and saying it offers no protection to whistleblowers, making anonymous tip-offs impossible.

He added that the fact that the new body's five-member board is to be elected by parliament also created the risk of political meddling.

But lawmakers, which were obliged to review the law but not necessarily amend it, voted on Friday not to make any changes. The opposition Socialists were the only group to vote against.

Under the constitution, Radev now has no choice but to approve the bill.

"There is no political will for a real, thorough and effective fight against corruption. Obviously this fight will have to continue to be fought by people and the media," he said earlier this week.

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