Latvia's Prime Minister Resigns

HELSINKI (AP) -- Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma on Monday handed her resignation to the president, after rumors had been circulating for weeks about a possible government collapse.

The head of the prime minister's office, Arnitis Ringolds, said that although her resignation would come into effect immediately she would continue to lead the three-party coalition in a caretaker capacity until a new government is chosen by Parliament.

Ringolds gave no reason for her resignation except to say that the prime minister felt the need to have "a new government ... to get new energy from new people."

In the past several months, internal disagreements have been visible in her government, making her resignation no surprise to observers, many of whom considered her to be politically inexperienced. They were convinced she would be only an interim leader for Latvia to oversee the Baltic country's chairmanship of the European Union during the first-half of 2015.

Straujuma, who leads the conservative Unity Party, last month fired the transport minister, sparking rumors of discontent within the center-right Cabinet that took office a year ago, and a particularly sticky issue within the three-party coalition has been the strategy and ownership of Latvia's national carrier Air Baltic.

The Baltic News Service, BNS, cited Gaidis Berzins, a member of one of the Unity's government partners the National Alliance, as saying that her resignation was the logical outcome of the rumors.

He added that the current coalition --- the Unity Party, the National Alliance and the Greens and Farmers Union --- still had the mandate given by the voters and that Unity would continue to head a new government.

The government took office in November 2014 when Latvia's Parliament approved the majority coalition following an agreement by the three parties to exclude a pro-Russian party which had won a general election a month earlier.