TALLINN - Siim-Valmar Kiisler has been slated to fill the post of Regional Affairs Minister after the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL) recalled the previous minister, Vallo Reimaa. The IRL confirmed Kiisler as its official choice for the position on Jan. 20 and lawmakers submitted a proposal to President Toomas Hendrik Ilves on Jan. 22 for his approval of the appointment.
Mart Laar, chairman of the IRL, offered Kiisler the portfolio on Jan. 19 and said that he will have six months in order to "prove himself" as minister. Kiisler currently serves as an assistant minister at the Economy and Communications Ministry, and was a member of Parliament from 2003 - 07.
A trained computer programmer, Kiisler is well-versed in e-governance and will be expected to immediately tackle issues of infrastructure, transport and roads. Laar also predicted that decisions clarifying administrative structure will be made in the first half of the year.
IRL board members stressed the importance of previous political experience when discussing a suitable candidate to fill the post.
The board made the switch-out official during an extraordinary meeting held on Jan. 20. Members recalled the previous minister, Vallo Reimaa, by a vote of 67 - 34, citing unfavorable results of his work and a general lack of experience.
"Although he has not made any major blunder in the public, he hasn't done the work that would need to be done, and things have not proceeded as well as had been expected," Laar told BNS.
Laar initially approached Tarmo Loodus, chairman of the Viljandi City Council, on Jan. 18 and offered him the position. A previous Interior Minister, Loodus was in favor of accepting the post but turned down the offer after a discussion with his family.
"I left Tallinn in order to put my son into school. He started first grade in the fall, and now I need to first and foremost take the position of a father," Loodus told Sakala. He recommended to Laar that Kiisler be considered instead.
Opposition political forces quickly took the opportunity to lash out at Laar, accusing him of wishing to wipe out regional policy entirely. General Secretary of the People's Union party Kajar Lember blamed the ruling coalition for attempting to cut bureaucracy and in the process shift problems to the local governments.
Reimaa expected his speedy dismissal after critical statements concerning his performance were made during a board meeting on Jan. 14. The four other IRL ministers were praised in their reviews; however the board and the IRL parliamentary faction unanimously asked Reimaa to exit his post.