Latvian government survives no-confidence vote

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RIGA, Oct 23 (Reuters) Latvia's centre-right government survived a vote of no confidence today, seeing off an opposition challenge over its sacking of the country's anti-corruption chief.

Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis has been under intense pressure.

Thousands of protesters last week demanded his resignation over his dismissal of anti-corruption boss Aleksejs Loskutovs. Two ministers have also left the cabinet.

A total of 56 members of parliament rejected the proposal to dismiss the government, while 36 supported it.

Kalvitis, who says he has no intention of resigning, faces another key vote tomorrow when parliament has its first reading of the 2008 budget. He remained confident.

''I am sure we will also survive the budget procedures tomorrow,'' he told Reuters after the no-confidence debate.

The opposition had said it hoped the no-confidence vote might expose weaknesses in the four-party coalition after the two ministers departed from the cabinet.

One, former Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks resigned, while the other, the regional affairs minister, was dismissed. Both had disagreed with the Loskutovs decision.

Kalvitis's government has 58 seats in the 100-member parliament.

The four-party coalition has shown discipline and unity in recent key votes.

Critics have said Kalvitis sacked anti-corruption bureau chief Aleksejs Loskutovs as he was getting too close in his investigations to key business and political allies of the premier. Kalvitis has said the KNAB anti-corruption force of Loskutovs was guilty of financial irregularities.

REUTERS SZ KP1506

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