RIGA - The acting head of the Corruption Prevention and Control Bureau, Juta Strike, will be removed as soon as another acceptable candidate is found, Prime Minister Indulis Emsis said last week.
Strike is unsuitable for the position, in Emsis' opinion, because he has recently received three complaints about her work and her nomination was struck down by Parliament twice.
The statement was made before the CPCB (KNAB in Latvian) announced on March 15 that the Emsis-led Greens and Farmers Union was again cited for accepting illegal donations totaling 29,100 lats (43,525 euros).
Former Prime Minister Einars Repse immediately condemned the decision, saying there was "no foundation for removing Strike."
Emsis on March 15 nominated Juris Reksna, the state secretary police general at the Interior Ministry, to replace Strike, but Reksna, who did not participate in the previous competition for the position, declined the post the following day.
The decision to nominate Reksna drew criticism from anticorruption watchdogs.
"We are totally against it, and we have been quite outspoken about it in the last few days," Inese Voika, head of the Latvian chapter of Transparency International and anticorruption NGO, said.
Voika cited the speed with which the new government wished to replace the anticorruption acting head as problematic.
"If the selection is done properly [it ensured that] it is a pretty independent organization," she said.
Other analysts have agreed.
"This is really worrying. In a couple of days the prime minister changes his opinion on how to select the head of the CPCB," Nellija Locmele, editor in chief of public policy Web site politika.lv, said.
"This is something we were worried about, and now it's happening," Pauls Raudseps, editorial page editor for the Diena daily, said.
For now Strike, 33, is still the acting head of the anticorruption bureau, but her future at the bureau is unclear.
Ilona Lice, head of public relations for Prime Minister Emsis, said Strike's future would depend on the next head of the anticorruption agency. As to the agency's new head, Lice said, "The prime minister will choose a person from the previous competition to head the CPCB."
Repse's decision to keep Strike in the position despite two failed votes in Parliament to confirm her meant she was wholly reliant on the former prime minister, who could have removed her at any time.
Crucially, if she or another candidate had been confirmed, this individual would have had a five-year term at the CPCB.
Indulis Emsis' party Greens and Farmers Union has had a rocky relationship with the anticorruption bureau under Strike, where they were cited in the past for receiving illegal donations of 56,000 lats.
The party has so far turned over 50,000 lats, the CPCB said.
"This is not a personal vendetta by the GFU, but a broader question for all the coalition," Locmele of politika.lv said.