Latvian President moves to dissolve Parliament

The move came after lawmakers blocked an anti-corruption probe against a politician.

Updated: May 29, 2011, 09:49 AM IST

Riga: Latvian President Valdis Zatlers on Saturday called for the dissolution of the country`s parliament after lawmakers blocked an anti-corruption investigation against a prominent politician.

His move means a referendum will be held in the next few months on whether to break up Parliament and hold new elections.

It sets the stage for political turmoil in recession-scarred Latvia, which was forced to seek a euro7.5 billion international bailout to repair its crippled economy.

A presidential election is expected next week in Parliament, and Zatlers said he realized his chances of re-election could be hurt. But in a speech to the nation he said he felt compelled to stop corrupt practices which have left people without confidence in the Baltic country`s politicians.

The speech comes on the heels of a vote Thursday in the Saeima, or Parliament, that blocked the country`s anti-corruption bureau from searching the home of Ainars Slesers, a powerful politician known as one of Latvia`s three oligarchs.

Slesers is currently the center of one of the largest corruption investigations in the agency`s history.

"The Saeima vote on Thursday unfortunately is like a siren that warns about a serious conflict between legislative power and the justice system — two of the three powers on which our country is based," Zatlers said.

Bureau Report