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Wednesday 19.12.2018 | Name days: Sarmis, Lelde
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Abu Meri: parliamentary investigative committee could help combat corruption in Riga City Council

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU«Nils Ušakovs’ policy in Riga is not only non-democratic but also allows for systematic corruption, which has become a tradition. If a week goes by with no scandal, it seems too long. Because of that, I consider forming a parliamentary investigative committee to study corruption in Riga City Council,» said Unity’s Saeima faction leader Hosams Abu Meri in an interview to BNN.

Abu Meri says formation of such a committee is currently an idea. He wants to discuss it with Unity’s board and Saeima coalition. He also wants to involve other political parties to see which of them would support this idea. «Saeima should take the matter regarding Riga municipality more seriously,» said the deputy.

He believes multiple municipalities in Latvia have a problem – leaders of municipal governments have ambitions that put them close to violating the law. «Whenever Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry looks the other way or reacts slowly to violations, they use this to do whatever they want in municipalities.»

«When it comes to prominent ‘kings’, we have two prominent ones: Nils Ušakovs in Riga and Aivars Lembergs in Kurzeme,» said the leader of Unity’s Saeima faction.

According to Abu Meri, Lembergs’ policy is far closer to dictatorial regime than what is found in Riga City Council. «As far as I can tell from what I’ve heard, Ventspils City Council deputies have almost no rights at all. They are systematically humiliated by withholding information about the city council’s work.»

Unity’s member says Saeima coalition should react to such a situation. «Lembergs is a partner of the ruling coalition. His party is represented in the Union of Greens and farmers. This party should think about the country we all live in. Harmony is an opposition party in the Saeima. This means we have ways to control Riga municipality. One of the ways to exercise control is forming a parliamentary investigative committee,» Abu Meri continues.

The deputy says this situation with ‘kings’ is very serious. «What we in Unity want to do prior to and after Saeima elections is following closely to activities in different municipalities. If it is a problem with legislation, as Kaspars Gerhads says, then he should come up with an initiative and point which sections of the law need changing.»

The head of Unity’s faction believes it would not be wise to request Gerhards’ dismissal this close to Saeima elections. Such a step from Unity would look like an act of populism. «Our goal is inviting Mr. Gerhards to react to these violations in municipalities. We’re not saying he’s a bad person, we just want to see a more serious approach from him.»

After meeting with Gerhards, members of the Unity’s Saeima faction concluded that there is still a lot to do to enhance democratic principles in municipalities. Deputies asked the minister to immediately cancel the non-democratic changes to Riga City Council’s internal order that only serve to limit the rights of city council members to ask questions during meetings.

«Democracy is a value that cannot be approached on a surface level or selectively. Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry, regardless of opposition deputies’ political beliefs or sympathy, has to ensure compliance with democratic principles in the work performed by municipal administrations and put an end to rules that limit deputies’ rights,» says chairman of Unity’s Saeima faction Hosams Abu Meri.

He says opposition deputies represent a considerable portion of residents. However, after listening to opinions of several municipal deputies, it was concluded that there are municipalities the leaders of which consider themselves kings, ignoring basic principles of democracy and denying deputies the right to represent their voters in an equal manner, adds the deputy.

«The ministry’s response to certain cases is considered to be movement in the right directions. This movement should be continued by establishing equal attitude to all municipalities,» says the deputy.


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