Political party collects enough signatures to initiate dismissal of Latvia’s Minister of Defence

The initiative for the dismissal of Minister of Defence Ināra Mūrniece from Saeima opposition party Latvia in First Place (LPV) has received the necessary number of signatures from parliamentarians, as confirmed by LPV representative Līga Krapāne.
The Saeima Rules of Order state that signatures of at least ten Saeima deputies are needed. LPV has collected 18. «This request came about as a result of the ministry’s scandalous procurement, which concluded during the minister’s term and which is already under investigation,» as mentioned in LPV’s announcement.
Previously it was reported that after the scandal about the army food procurement the Ministry of Defence plans to compose an internal security office, which will be given the right of operative inquiry, Mūrniece said during a meeting with Saeima’s Mandate, Ethics and Submissions Committee on Wednesday, the 8th of March.
LPV believes that despite the fact that the scandalous procurement was organised during the term of the previous Minister of Defence Artis Pabriks, it was completed during the term of the incumbent minister – Ināra Mūrniece. This puts direct political responsibility for this project on the shoulders of the current minister.
«Without a doubt Zītari LZ, whose turnover was slightly above EUR 140 000 in 2021, was incredibly lucky to land a contract with turnover of half a million euros. One could say it is nothing short of scandalous. The responsibility for this was voluntarily taken by Ināra Mūrniece from Artis Pabriks,» said Krapāne, adding that

LPV has «justified concerns about the information reported about the owner of the company that won the EUR 220 million worth contract and the close ties shared with certain political parties, which may have influenced the outcome of the procurement».

LPV believes the company’s political contacts may have helped secure a win in the procurement. «If this is the case, it casts a shameful shadow of ‘friendship’ at the Ministry of Defence, which is supposed to keep Latvian citizens safe. LPV also sharply criticises the reaction from the minister of defence in regards to the scandal with the army food procurement. The party believes Mūrniece avoided giving a clear answer about the procurement completed during her term. This is the reason to request the minister’s dismissal.
Considering the publicly reported information and the minister’s own conclusions, LPV believes all of this is irrefutable proof of Ināra Mūrniece indirectly admitting her responsibility for the contract. The only logical step after this is for her to voluntarily step down.»

«Unfortunately, in Latvia the tradition for officials to take political responsibility is not popular. This is why the request for the minister’s dismissal came to be,» said Krapāne,

adding that the Ministry of Defence sent related documents to the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) last autumn.
«This means that when she took office, there is no way Minister of Defence Ināra Mūrniece didn’t known anything about it. The procurement should have been halted, which the minister didn’t do. Instead she permitted the signing of the contract with Zītari ZL,» stresses the representative of LPV.
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