Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) accepted the resignation of Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab on Tuesday. Aab announced that he is stepping down after police caught him speeding and driving while intoxicated. A successor will be picked in the next few weeks, Ratas said.
"I've accepted Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab's resignation with a very heavy heart," Ratas was quoted as saying in a government press release. "Unfortunately there was no other choice. This kind of thing isn't acceptable for any driver."
Aab had acted "statesmanlike" in his decision to step down, the prime minister added.
Ratas commended Aab for the way he has run his ministry. "He ran his department outstandingly thoroughly and with great expertise in a time of great reforms," Ratas said. Aab had been a great support to all of the government not just concerning his own ministry's specific area of work, but had also contributed a lot to the areas of health care and social policy.
A replacement for Aab is to be found in the next few weeks. Ratas said he would propose a candidate to the Center Party's leadership first, and to the public after that.
Prime minister might ask president to nominate two new ministers
Talking to reporters on Tuesday, Ratas said he couldn't exclude the possibility that he will ask the president to nominate two ministers at once, as Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE) has also announced his plan to resign.
The police stopped Aab after he was caught in a speed check doing 73 kilometers an hour instead of the allowed 50 (45 mph instead of 31).
At the time of the police's check, Aab had a blood alcohol level of 0.28. Aab said he "very deeply regrets" the incident, and that he wouldn't try to justify himself. "I've learned my lesson," Aab said.
The minister added that getting behind the wheel drunk is "entirely irresponsible." He indicated that he hadn't had a drink for quite some time before driving, and "wrongly assumed" that he was sober.
The lower limit of most European Union countries is 0.2 to 0.25, at which point fines have to be paid and the police issue warnings. Estonia has a zero-tolerance policy for drunk driving.
Editor: Dario Cavegn