Health Minister says opinion differences led to her dismissal

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The main issue between the Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš and Health Minister Ilze Viņķele is the radical difference in opinions, Ilze Viņķele told Latvian Television January 5.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš  (New Unity) said he would demand the resignation of Health Minister Ilze Viņķele over an unclear and delayed development of Covid-19 vaccination plan.

Viņķele said that the demand to resign was not a surprise, but the way it was delivered was surprising.

"The head of government should have gathered as much courage as to call and say - Viņķele, our paths will not cross anymore (..). PM Kariņš chose his traditional method, not talking about big decisions directly, but in wider public. "

The Minister said that the biggest conceptual difference in opinions between her and the PM is that Kariņš thinks the Health  Minister should only be concerned with health and not other sectors. 

The Prime Minister had explained that he, since, the beginning of the pandemic, has stood for decisive action but had constantly met Viņķele's resistance, for example, on  wearing masks. Viņķele said she had "no opinion on masks" and that her decisions were based on epidemiologists' recommendations.

Responding to rumors about the Health Minister allegedly turning down an available extra batch of vaccines, Viņķele said those were "blatant lies".

"I will say it as it is, those are lies, blatant lies," said Viņķele.

Kariņš promised to sign a resignation request Thursday and said Viņķele's Development/For! party colleague, Minister of Defense Artis Pabriks will hold the position of interim Minister of Health until a new candidate is approved by the party.

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