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Saeima to debate Rimšēvičs resignation next week

A brief discussion in Latvia's parliament, the Saeima, on March 1 about the possible resignation of central bank governor Ilmārs Rimšēvičs, ended with MPs agreeing to consider the matter next week.

A motion by the Vienotiba (Unity) faction within the ruling three-party coalition called on Rimšēvičs to resign but by the rules of parliamentary procedure, it could not be considered immediately unless there were no objections by other MPs. Valdis Kalnozols from the same Greens and Farmers Union of Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis raised an objection, saying the call for resignation amounted to an "auto-de-fé" as favored by the Spanish Inquisition, so the whole matter was put on hold for a week.

The motion says Rimšēvičs' continued presence at the head of the central bank risks doing "discredit" to that institution, to the European Central Bank and to Latvia itself and "casts doubt on the integrity" of the financial system.

In any case, the motion simply calls on Rimšēvičs to step down to reduce reputational damage to the country while an investigation into allegations of bribery continues. Should Rimšēvičs choose to ignore the motion there is very little the Saeima can do about it, as pointed out by independent MP Artuss Kaimiņš who said: "With Rimšēvičs, all we [Saeima] can do is invite him to resign. We can't do anything else. Like, I invite you all to fly." 

Rimšēvičs has led the central bank since 2001. His third six-year term is due to expire next year.

Following his detention, the coalition has belatedly realised that placing a two-term, five-year limit on holding the position would be desirable, though legislation has yet to be enacted to that effect.

Rimšēvičs continues to protest his innocence and unwillingness to step down, alleging a conspiracy against him.

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