Prime ministerial hopefuls being checked by security services

Three possible candidates to become Latvia’s next prime minister: Aldis Gobzems, Artis Pabriks and Janis Bordans - have submitted to the Constitution Protection Bureau (SAB) documents necessary for vetting them for top-level security clearances, which they would need to access state secrets, reported the LETA newswire October 25.

SAB representative Iveta Maura told LETA that the bureau had received forms filled out by three persons, without naming them directly, and that SAB had started a preliminary examination to determine whether these persons might be granted the security clearance for handling classified information.

“If SAB finds that there are risks in granting them the clearances, the bureau will inform the president who has the authority to designate a candidate for prime minister. The preliminary vetting of these persons will be carried out in as short a period of time as possible. If the president nominates one of these persons, SAB will complete the vetting process and the bureau’s director will take the corresponding decision,” said Maura, indicating that a second round of vetting would follow the first in the case of an actual prime ministerial nominee being named by the president.

Although SAB said it would complete the preliminary vetting as soon as possible, the bureau has not given any specific deadline.

As previously reported, after consultations with the political parties represented in the 13th Saeima, President Raimonds Vejonis said last week that he would continue to consider Pabriks from For Development/For, Gobzems from KPV LV and Bordans from the New Conservative Party as possible candidates for prime minister.

The president expects the parties to reach an agreement on support for one of these candidates. He also indicated that he would only nominate a candidate highly likely to receive the necessary security clearance.

Later on Friday Vējonis said the progress made on forming a government so far was "unsatisfactory" and summoned the three candidates to Rīga Castle on October 30 to update him on what is happening.

"At the moment, there is no agreement not only about the shape of the next coalition, but also no ability to agree on the work to be done," Vējonis said in a statement.

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