Unity chairwoman: PM ready to step town; Straujuma denies it

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Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma (Unity) said in her party's faction meeting Thursday morning that she's ready to step down from her post, Unity faction leader and chairwoman Solvita Āboltiņa told journalists after the meeting. However, Straujuma's spokeswoman Aiva Rozenberga denied that the PM is planning to step down.

When she was asked what will happen if Unity will not be able to convince MPs to allow the state invest €80m into the national air carrier airBaltic as per the agreement with the new investor, Āboltiņa told journalists that Straujuma said that she'd be ready to resign in such a scenario.

However, the PM can't step down now as the budget is being passed through Saeima, so her resignation and the consequent fall of the government is unacceptable, said Āboltiņa.

While the prime minister's spokeswoman Aiva Rozenberga told BNS that Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma does not plan to step down.

Asked whether the PM stepping down would be an issue to consider after next year's budget is passed in the final reading, Rozenberga said: "It is not on the prime minister's agenda."

"There are some historical moments where such things usually don't happen," said Āboltiņa.

Āboltiņa also said that, in order to continue working after the budget has been accepted, Straujuma's cabinet has to prove its capability for action in domestic politics as well as it has done so in foreign policy. 

Straujuma demanded Transport Minister Anrijs Matīss' resignation on Wednesday, accusing the transport minister of keeping the government in the dark about the strategy of Latvia's airBaltic national carrier and a failure to ensure a proper supervision of the state-owned company.

Matīss said at a news conference Wednesday that he would not stand down on his own accord and will wait for the premier's order. Matīss, a member of the ruling center-right Unity party, intends to resume his work as an MP next week.

On Thursday Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma signed an order to sack Transport Minister Anrijs Matīss and appointed Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis acting transport minister. He well start performing his new office duties on November 7.

In order to avoid speculations about a possible conflict of interest, Straujuma decided to replace Finance Minister Jānis Reirs, whom she had previously singled out for the post, with Kozlovskis as acting transport minister.

Straujuma said that she does not intend to propose a candidate for the new transport minister before the adoption of the 2016 budget in Saeima, set to take place on November 30.

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