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Justice minister quits over state secrets row

Justice Minister Baiba Broka announced her resignation Monday following a decision by Prosecutor General Eriks Kalnmeiers not to allow her access to classified material. 

"Following consultations with my colleagues and the board of the National Alliance, we have decided that I will submit a letter of resignation to the Prime Minister," Broka told reporters at the Justice Ministry.

She was taking a "responsible" decision bearing in mind the fact that she had not achieved the necessary security clearance to fulfill her role properly, Broka said.

As LSM reported earlier on Monday, the office of Prosecutor General Eriks Kalnmeiers confirmed it would not overrule a decision by Latvia's intelligence service, the Constitution Protection Bureau (SAB), that Broka cannot be given security clearance to deal with classified material, despite the very obvious need for such clearance given her job as Justice Minister.

Broka's lack of security clearance – for reasons which have never been clearly specified but which SAB chief Janis Maizitis has described as “very serious” – has been an issue ever since she took office on January 22.

As a member of parliament with the nationalist National Alliance bloc, which prides itself on a tough law-and-order stance, Broka's situation has been politically embarrassing as well as frequently absurd with the Justice Minister having to leave meetings at which her ministerial colleagues discuss classified material.

Broka appealed SAB's decision to the Prosecutor General on June 18.

However with the controversy having already dragged on for months and with less than three months until parliamentary elections, a resignation would give a fresh headache to Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma following the resignation of Health Minister Ingrida Circene on July 7.

Broka confirmed that she will not take part in October's parliamentary elections.

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