RIGA 's Einars Cilinskis, the leading candidate to fill the vacant post of Minister of Economics has unexpectedly declined the position.
Cilinskis was nominated by the nationalist alliance For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK (TB/LNNK) and despite lukewarm initial comments by Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis, was widely expected to be confirmed as the new Economics Minister imminently.
However, Cilinskis turned down Kalvitis' invitation on a matter of principle over the questionable dismissal of KNAB anti-corruption chief Aleksejs Loskutovs, a decision with which Cilinskis disagrees.
He also voiced dissatisfaction with the process of his nomination for the ministerial post and the fact that party colleague Normunds Broks finds himself without a job after the post of special assignments minister for the supervision of EU funds was abruptly dissolved.
He also indicated that he and the prime minister had differing opinions about the priorities of Latvia's economic development.
Cilinskis pointed out that all these developments cast a shadow on the TB/LNNK party and his own personal reputation. Political commentators suspect that Kalvitis only agreed to Cilinskis' nomination in return for TB/LNNK support over the Loskutovs affair and when Cilinskis realised that this was the case he decided not to tarnish his reputation by being associated with such a deal.
So at a time when economic matters are at the forefront of the Latvian people's minds, the country finds itself still with no economics minister. Kalvitis has been performing ministerial duties himself - in addition to his prime ministerial responsibilities - for a month now, and will need to make haste to install a new candidate before he departs for a visit to the U.S. in mid-November.