Saeima confirms two new ministers

Latvia’s parliament has confirmed two new government ministers, who are replacements necessitated by the People’s Party’s decision in March to quit the ruling coalition.

The Saeima on May 13 voted 48-24, with five abstentions, to confirm Dagnija Staķe as the new minister of regional development and local government affairs. She replaces Edgars Zalāns of the People’s Party (Tautas partija).

Staķe, 58, is a member of parliament and served as welfare minister from 2002-2007. She is a member of the Union of Greens and Farmers (Zaļo un Zemnieku savienība), which is one of the four political parties remaining in the government coalition.

After the People’s Party left the coalition, media reports suggested the regional development and local government affairs ministry might be eliminated as a cost-saving measure.

The Saeima also confirmed Didzis Gavars as the new health minister on a 49-25 vote, with 16 abstentions. Gavars, 43, replaces Baiba Rozentāle of the People’s Party. Since 1993, Gavars has been assistant director of SIA E. Gulbja Laboratorija in Rīga.

The parliament on April 29 confirmed Aivis Ronis as the new foreign minister, replacing Māris Riekstiņš of the People’s Party. Ronis, 41, has diplomatic experience including serving as Latvia’s ambassador to the United States and to the NATO defense alliance.

Still undecided is the fate of the justice minister’s portfolio. Mareks Segliņš of the People’s Party resigned from the post and the job for now is being handled by Defense Minister Imants Lieģis.

A fifth People’s Party government official, Culture Minister Ints Dālderis, announced March 19 that he would not step down.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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