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Bulgaria

Bulgaria opts for October poll amid bank turmoil

Bulgaria's socialist-led government says the country's political parties have agreed an early election be held on October 5. Bulgaria's central bank has called for calm after rumors around leading finance houses.

Socialist leader Sergie Stanishev announced the proposed election date in Sofia as the central bank warned against what it called "untrue and ill-intentioned rumors" about the health of the country's fourth-biggest bank.

"We will propose to the president the date of October 5 for holding the parliamentary election," Socialist Party leader Sergei Stanishev told a news conference in the parliament.

Last week, Corporate Commercial Bank (Corpbank) was placed under the control of the central bank, which said the bank's problems were isolated.

Targeting unjustified, says central bank

On Friday, the central bank said another lender, the First Investment Bank, had become the target of "an attempt to destabilize the state through an organized attack against Bulgarian banks, without any reason."

According to news agency Reuters queues grew at "some bank branches" on Friday morning as customers tried to take out their money.

The ratings agency Fitch and economists said the problems of Corpbank were specific to that lender and should not cause wider contagion.

Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski said he saw "no grounds for concern among the citizens of the country."

"We will support all efforts of the central bank … not to allow any shaking of public trust in one or other of the institutions," he said.

Borisov calls for IMF advice

Bulgaria's main opposition leader, Boiko Borisov of the center-right GERB party, said Sofia should call for expert advice from the International Monetary Fund "so that the country can calm down."

The previous government led by Borisov was toppled in February 2013 by street protests over high energy prices.

Borisov added that Oresharski's government would probably stay in office until the end of July to allow time for talks with the IMF.

Two weeks ago, the ruling coalition survived its fifth no-confidence vote, following a poor showing for the Socialists in May's European Parliament election.

Surveys suggest that Borisov's GERB party will emerge as the largest party in the new parliament.

Bulgaria's existing government is one year into a four-year term and is backed by exactly half of the 240 members of parliament.

ij/jm (dpa, Reuters, AP)

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