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Bulgarian Leaders to Resign

BULGARIA'S government, under pressure from a general strike, will announce its resignation, the official BTA news agency said yesterday. It quoted a source close to President Zhelyu Zhelev as saying a deal between Bulgaria's main parliamentary parties was ``almost ready.''

The agreement provided for the resignation of Socialist Prime Minister Andrei Lukanov and the appointment by Mr. Zhelev of a caretaker government, the agency said.

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The caretaker administration would be led by a prime minister who was neither from Mr. Lukanov's Socialist Party nor from the main opposition Union of Democratic Forces.

The government, composed of reform-minded ex-communists in the renamed Socialist Party, is under attack over chronic food and fuel shortages.

Critics charge it is clinging to its communist past. The Socialists and opposition parties have been holding talks on a way out of the crisis since Monday, when Zhelev called for consultations to save Bulgaria from civil strife.

The report did not make clear whether new parliamentary elections would be held. BTA issued the report on the third day of a growing general strike by the independent trade union Podkrepa to force Lukanov and his embattled government to quit.

Bulgarian air traffic controllers joined a general strike yesterday, halting all flights.

In Sofia, one policeman was injured and two students were arrested when riot police scuffled with about 1,500 students and strikers blockading a bridge, the radio said.

Lukanov's Socialists swept to victory in free elections in June after the overthrow a year ago of hard-line Communist leader Todor Zhivkov.

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