New speaker to be elected

  • 2007-09-25
  • By Mike Collier

RIGA 's An emergency plenary session of the Saeima will be held Sep. 24 in order to elect a new parliamentary speaker.

Current speaker Indulis Emsis has announced that he will resign on the same day, in the wake of news that he will face charges in connection with the 'tractorgate' affair.

A joint meeting of the Saeima Presidium and parliamentary groups was held Sep. 21 which decided the course of action. Emsis cannot step down immediately without causing a minor constitutional crisis because - with President Valdis Zatlers currently in the United States - Emsis is in effect acting president at home. The Latvian constitution does not provide for anyone other than the parliamentary speaker to deputise.

Saeima legal expert Gunars Kusins has guided the process. Any member of parliament will be able to nominate a new speaker, but must obtain written consent from the nominee.

Parliamentary insiders have suggested that the ruling coalition parties will agree that their preferred nominee can come from the same faction as Emsis, namely the Greens and Farmers' Union.

Emsis has been under increasing pressure to step aside ever since it was revealed that he lost a briefcase containing a large amount of cash. Originally he claimed that the sum was 10,000 dollars in his statement to police but then changed the amount to 6,500 dollars once that amount was recovered by police. As a result he faces false testimony charges.