Ruckus in Riga City Council over limiting debate process

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Opposition councilors in Riga City Council temporarily paralyzed the local authority, after the ruling coalition proposed limiting the number of questions councilors can pose in council meetings, reports Latvian Radio March 1. 

Councilors used what could be their last chance to ask as many questions as they'd like, and the meeting lasted for more than 13 hours, concluding at 5 a.m.

The rules, submitted by the ruling Harmony and Honor to Serve Riga parties, were supported by 32 votes to 22. They stipulate that councilors can to ask up to three questions during debates, and speak only for up to three minutes. Each party would be allowed to ask for a single break. 

The opposition called the initiative 'anti-democratic' and asked numerous questions without receiving an answer from the councilors who came up with it. Heated debates saw the question part of the debate last until 2 a.m. 

Ušakovs called for a meeting of faction leaders on March 9 to "normalize the work of the Riga City Council". The coalition wants to first adopt the amendments and then set up a council of faction leaders for organizing council committee work more effectively. 

"What you're saying about work optimization.. are lies. We're giving you a chance for reconciliation, but it's only possible if we speak on the equal terms, not with one party having privilege and then inviting the other party, brought to its knees, to debate," said councilor Jānis Bordāns (New Conservative Party). 

Meanwhile vice-mayor Andris Ameriks (Honor to Serve Riga) said that committees remain democratic, and that the amendments are necessary because opposition councilors use the meetings to humiliate council employees. 

While Juris Pūce (Latvian Development) said that while his party is up for optimizing council work, "It won't happen tonight. I consider your proposals anti-democratic."

Coalition councilors were less talkative than their counterparts, with Vjačeslavs Stepaņenko (Honor to Serve Riga) saying, at 5 a.m., that the opposition reminds him of a "four-year-old child, who does all it can not to go to sleep". While Eiženija Aldermane (Honor to Serve Riga) said it's sad councilors hadn't been limited before. 

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