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Premier and Cabinet Quit in Estonia

January 09, 2002|From Times Wire Services

TALLINN, Estonia — Prime Minister Mart Laar resigned Tuesday, complaining of coalition infighting that hampered his government and threatened Estonia's efforts to join the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Laar, 41, told Parliament before Christmas that he would step down, saying disputes in the three-party coalition--led by his center-right Pro Patria party--"endanger key goals of Estonia."

The Cabinet, which includes the center-right Reform Party and centrist Moderates, automatically quits as a result of Laar's action. But the Cabinet will stay on in a caretaker role until President Arnold Ruutel nominates a new prime minister and Parliament approves a new Cabinet.

Laar blamed the Reform Party for the friction, saying it betrayed him by joining the opposition Center Party in a municipal government alliance in Tallinn, the capital. Though the parties in the coalition were agreed on joining the EU and NATO, it was feared that the party disputes could hold up policies.

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