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Pro-Russia party floats possibility of joining Latvian coalition


RIGA, February 21 (RIA Novosti) - As Latvian political leaders try to form a new coalition following the prime minister's resignation, the largest pro-Russian party said it could join the government.

"The Accord Center does not rule out joining a ruling coalition and entering the government," senior party lawmaker Andrei Klementyev told RIA Novosti on Friday.

Latvian President Valdis Zatlers said on Friday he had accepted the resignation of the country's prime minister, Ivars Godmanis, amid the ongoing economic crisis in the Baltic state.

The premier's resignation had been demanded by the country's two largest coalition parties, the People's Party and the Union of Greens and Farmers. The parties said they would leave the coalition if the embattled prime minister did not resign.

Zatlers said he would start consultations on forming a new coalition on Monday. The largest group in the parliament, the People's Party, and the opposition New Era party are expected to form the core of the government, but they would fall short of a majority in the 100-seat Saeima.

The new coalition is unlikely to include Latvia's First Party and Latvian Way bloc of Godmanis, so either the Union of Greens and Farmers will rejoin the People's Party in government, or the Accord Center could be included.

Klementyev ruled out working with the nationalist For Fatherland and Freedom, and insisted that the Accord Center could only join a government with a nonpartisan prime minister, which could prove a stumbling block as the People's Party is thought to want to regain the post it lost amid a scandal in 2007.

Recent polls suggest that the Accord Center is the most popular political party in Latvia, which has been hit particularly hard by the global economic crisis. It was the European Union's worst performing economy in 2008 and the president said the country was only saved from bankruptcy by an IMF loan in December.

The prime minister survived a no-confidence vote in parliament in early February, but on February 13, Zatlers said he had lost confidence in Godmanis, who had refused to implement his earlier announced plans to cut a number of government ministries as part of anti-crisis measures.

Latvia saw a wave of protests on January 13, when more than 40 people were injured in clashes with riot police. Demonstrators called for new parliamentary polls in the Baltic state and accused the government of economic mismanagement amid the financial crisis.

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