Unity faction leader steps aside while vote-buy scandal plays out

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Unity's Saeima faction leader Dzintars Zaķis, who was propelled by extra pluses into the 12th Saeima on the party's Latgale electoral lists last weekend, has resigned his long-standing parliamentary post saying he wants to avoid casting any shadow over his political grouping.

He categorically denied allegations of being behind any vote-buying scheme, as submitted in a deposition to the Security Police for investigation by a fellow party member, Juris Vidiņs.

Vidiņs claimed local residents of Viļāni and other eastern Latgale communities had been offered and received cash sums of 5 to 40 euros for being able to prove their plus vote for Zaķis on the Unity list.

Central Election Committee (CVK) results show that fellow candidate Vidiņš, being far behind Zaķis in the number of 'plus' votes her received, remained below the ranks of elected MPs from the Unity list in Latgale this time.

Faction co-leaders Lolita Čigāne and Edvards Smiltēns will lead the Saeima group until the end of the 11th Saeima's term and the 12th Saeima assembles on November 4.

The Security Police have yet to comment on whether the allegations against Zakis have any substance or are a result of internal party rivalries.

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