Bulgaria Joins Reformers

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

AFTER a three-day session of the Communist Party Central Committee, Bulgarian communists proposed constitutional changes to abolish the leading role of the party. On the streets of Sofia, demonstrators from a variety of independent groups, many of them newly formed, have pressed for further democratization of the political system.

Bulgaria is going through much of the same rapid political development as most other East-bloc countries. Most of the opposition groups are still not legal, but it does not seem to prevent them from using every means available - meetings, petitions, and demonstrations - to pressure the authorities to democratize life in Bulgaria. Opposition groups and students formed a human chain yesterday around the National Assembly in another call for political reforms.

The Bulgarian Communist Party, in turn, is fighting for its political survival. And its extraordinary congress, set for March 19 next year, will most likely bring dramatic changes to its personnel and organization. Once the congress is over, the preparations for the free elections, scheduled for the second quarter of next year, will begin in earnest.

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It was on Nov. 10 that Todor Zhivkov, the ruler of Bulgaria for 35 years, was dismissed in something of a palace coup, and Foreign Minister Petar Mladenov took over as party leader. Mr. Zhivkov was expelled from the party during this week's Central Committee meeting, and he could face a corruption trial.

But Mr. Mladenov's task is not easy. He has to deal with both radical and conservative factions within the party, and his call for unity within the party was a main theme at a big Communist rally here in Sofia last Wednesday.

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