Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 144

President Guntis Ulmanis yesterday tasked Ziedonis Cevers to form Latvia’s new government. Cevers is the leader of the Democratic Owners’ (Samnieks) Party and of the left-leaning National Conciliation Bloc (NCB). Ulmanis told a news conference that the nomination was necessitated by the deadlock in parliament, which last week narrowly turned down the right-of-center National Bloc (NB)’s attempt to form a government under Maris Grinblats, the president’s first choice. Cevers has pledged to Ulmanis to try and include right-of-center forces in his government; and to deny any government post to his major ally Joachim Siegerist, who had been in line for a deputy prime-ministership and whom many consider a populist demagogue. But Cevers also dismissed the goal of a balanced budget in 1996 as promised by Gailis. (13)

The 1960-born Cevers, a former leader of the Komsomol in Latvia and internal affairs minister in the early days of independence, has since become a prosperous businessman. Political rivals and the press have often accused him of maintaining links with shadowy Russian organizations, and criticized his party and its NCB allies for promoting state intervention in the economy and for balancing between Russia and West, instead of showing an unambiguous commitment to Western integration. Saimnieks with 18 parliamentary seats is the NCB’s single largest party.

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