Embattled PM vows to 'finish work'

  • 2007-11-07
  • By Talis Saule Archdeacon

DAYS NUMBERED? Prime Minister Kalvitis said he has a responsibility to stay in office despite calls by President Zatlers and others for him to step down after the state budget is passed on Nov. 8.

RIGA - Amid widespread speculation that he will be forced to resign in the coming days, Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis said on Nov. 5 that he intends to remain in office to see through three major projects which are the "responsibility" of the current government.
"There are a series of issues to be solved in the country which are, to a great extent, under the responsibility of the present government 's and it is not only the state budget. There is also the issue of the Latvian-Russian border treaty and the final decision on administrative district reform," Kalvitis was quoted as saying by the Baltic News Service.
"I have never avoided this responsibility and will never avoid it… I do not intend to leave these works unfinished," he said.

The government was thrown into crisis last month by the prime minister's late September decision to suspend anti-corruption chief Aleksejs Loskutovs 's a move that critics allege was politically motivated.
Fallout from the crisis has left an already fragile ruling coalition short by four ministers and prompted President Valdis Zatlers to call for the Kalvitis-led government to step down following the Nov. 8 vote on next year's national budget.
"The government, after adopting the state budget, has to step down in its entirety," Zatlers said.
As The Baltic Times went to press, the president was preparing to meet with the prime minister to discuss the future of the ruling coalition and the fate of Kalvitis himself.
The latest sign of the government's continued unraveling came on Oct. 31 with the resignation of Welfare Minister Dagnija Stake.

Stake said that she was resigning over a disagreement with some lawmakers over the amount of the ministry's budget that should be allocated to pensions 's arguing that pensions could not be raised to the levels required by Saeima (Latvian parliament) without diverting badly needed funds marked for children and the disabled.
Stake said she had only remained in office long enough to find a new care center for the victims of a fire that devastated a disabled home last winter. The prime minister accepted her resignation on Nov. 6.
In an interview with the popular morning TV program "900 seconds" on Nov. 5, Zatlers reiterated that the government should step down following the budget vote and began speculation on the formation of a new government.

"This government is falling apart at the seams. There is no confidence in the government," the president said. "Of course, we have strong emotions and we want changes… Parties must show solidarity and agree on the best possible candidates," he said.

The president also said that the make-up of the new government should be determined in transparent public debate. He said that this is the only way the government could gain legitimacy in the eyes of the people.
Following his harsh criticism of the government, however, Zatlers rejected calls to dissolve Parliament (see story Page 3). The president said that the dissolution of Parliament would not accomplish anything without viable alternative political parties to replace it.
"Firstly, it is clear that there is no alternative. If the parliament is dissolved, there must be a political force that would come with a positive program and show what to do. At this point, there is no such force," he said.
Kalvitis, meanwhile, said that it will not be "clear what happens next" until after the Nov. 8 final reading of the 2008 budget. Kalvitis admitted that if the ruling coalition was unable to pass the budget, it would be a clear indicator of instability and the government's impending crash.

"I would like to underscore again that the government has certain duties to be performed and as long as the government can manage those, the lack of government stability cannot be the issue," he said.