Latvian PM quits over store collapse
Latvia's prime minister resigned yesterday, in the wake of a supermarket roof cave-in that killed 54 people, just weeks before the country enters the eurozone.
The political thunderbolt announced by Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis effectively put an end to Latvia's government.
Latvian President Andris Berzins said he would "begin negotiations on the formation of a new government next week", ruling out an immediate election. The next parliamentary elections are set for October 2014.
The November 21 store collapse was Latvia's worst-ever peacetime disaster, leaving the Baltic state of two million people reeling.
"Considering the tragedy and all related circumstances... a new government is needed that has the clear support of parliament," Dombrovskis told reporters as he fought back tears.
"Therefore I have submitted my resignation from the post of prime minister," he said after a meeting with Berzins.
Latvia enters the eurozone on January 1, an unpopular move that Dombrovskis made a policy cornerstone for his administration.
He insisted yesterday that euro adoption played no part in his decision to leave and denied media speculation Berzins had demanded he step down.
"I've given a great deal of thought to the political and moral consequence of what happened," Dombrovskis said referring to the disaster, adding would stay on as a care-taker prime minister until a new administration was formed.
Dombrovskis said that although he was not prepared to head another government himself, he wanted his centrist Unity party to be part of the future governing coalition.
"I'll probably resume my duties as a member of parliament but that matter requires more thought," he added, without elaborating.
Analysts said yesterday his surprise resignation only ramped up political instability as the country is poised for a currency switch.
"It's going to create a certain amount of chaos. Most probably Latvia will join the eurozone with a caretaker prime minister in charge," analyst Ivars Ijabs of the University of Latvia told AFP.