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Bulgaria rejects anti-corruption bill

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(SOFIA) - Lawmakers in Bulgaria, under fire from the EU over its failure to tackle corruption, on Thursday rejected a bill that would have placed thousands of top officials under closer surveillance.

The proposed anti-corruption law presented by the coalition government of Boyko Borisov, was backed by just 101 of the 211 deputies present.

It would have created a "body to fight corruption at the highest levels of power," and watch over some 10,000 public figures including politicians, civil servants, judges, councillors and university rectors.

Following the vote, Deputy Prime Minister Meglena Kouneva deplored "the lack of will to fight corruption."

"The bill sparked fear among a large number of deputies because of its potential effect on their interests and the interests of people that they defend," she added.

Deputies from the nationalist Patriotic Front, a minority partner in the coalition, objected to a provision which would permit an investigation based only on an anonymous tip.

Brussels has long taken Bulgaria to task for failing to fight corruption and organised crime since joining the European Union in 2007.

Corruption figures broke a 15-year record in 2014, with officials receiving up to 158,000 bribes each month, according to the Sofia-based think tank Centre for the Study of Democracy.

Both Bulgaria and neighbouring Romania, which joined the EU the same year, remain subject to a special monitoring mechanism overseeing their anti-corruption strategies.

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