Interior minister quits, calls on Latvians to consider their role

Latvia’s interior minister Linda Mūrniece, who has been under increasing pressure since a shootout in Jēkabpils between local police and a gang of police bandits, is stepping down.

Mūrniece submitted her resignation to Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis on Feb. 17.

She has been the minister of the interior since March 2009. During that time, according to an Interior Ministry press release announcing her resignation, Mūrniece has been forced to accept and realize decisions that have been put off for years. The ministry, she added, has been underfunded for years.

“If I have not been able to change anything, then with this step I ask every resident of Latvia to think about their responsibility, to offer advice, to help, to think together and to work together, not just actively criticize,” Mūrniece said.

Following the Jan. 25 shootout, during which officer Andris Znotiņš was killed, calls for Mūrniece to step down escalated along with renewed focus on police corruption. Among those demanding her resignation was the United Police Trade Union of Latvia (Latvijas Apvienotā policistu apvienība), which said it has repeatedly warned about problems caused by low pay and poor working conditions for law enforcement workers.

Dombrovskis has not yet accepted Mūrniece’s resignation, according to Latvian media reports, and first wants to meet with her. Both the prime minister and Mūrniece are members of the Unity (Vienotība) bloc.

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