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IRL blaming interior minister for police chief's delayed confirmation

IRL's Priit Sibul.
IRL's Priit Sibul. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Director-general of the Police and Border Guard (PPA), Elmar Vaher, couldn't be confirmed in office as planned on Apr. 26 because junior coalition partner IRL intervened, saying that they have questions regarding PPA's spending. The party's deputy in parliament, Priit Sibul, has now blamed the situation on Minister of the Interior Andres Anvelt (SDE).

The Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL) forced Anvelt to take Vaher's confirmation off the agenda of the government's Apr. 26 meeting when the party's chairman, Helir-Valdor Seeder, declared that the party needs "more time to familiarize with the details of the more expensive border construction."

Since then, government members as well as IRL's own MPs have backed Vaher.

IRL's leading security politician in favor of Vaher

Among the latter is Raivo Aeg, member of the Legal Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu that had already agreed to Vaher continuing as the head of PPA. Aeg is a former director-general of the Internal Security Service (ISS).

Talking to ERR's "Aktuaalne kaamera" newscast on Monday, Aeg said that the doubts regarding border construction and Vaher's role in it hadn't come from the party's parliamentary group. "No earlier discussion or meeting ever called into question that Elmar Vaher should continue as the director-general of the police," Aeg said.

"Personally I'm in favor of Vaher, and I'm planning to say so in Wednesday's meeting of the parliamentary group," he added.

IRL's parliamentary group, headed by party chairman Helir-Valdor Seeder, will meet on Wednesday. The government's next chance to confirm Vaher is in its Thursday meeting. Vaher's current term expires tomorrow Wednesday, which means that Interior Minister Andres Anvelt is forced to appoint him acting director-general for the time until his confirmation.

As so far nobody has expressed any serious doubt that Vaher is the right choice, including IRL's chairman, who derailed last week's confirmation in the first place, commentators as well as MPs have called his move a desperate attempt at getting attention after IRL has recently slid below the 5-percent election threshold in popularity ratings.

IRL blaming interior minister's perceived lack of consideration

Deputy chairman of IRL's parliamentary group, Priit Sibul, told ERR on Monday that Anvelt had broken an agreement with the party that he would get back to them one more time before putting Vaher's confirmation on the agenda, as "some of the members of the parliamentary group" still have questions to ask him, and that this was the reason behind party chairman Seeder's move of last week.

Sibul meanwhile counts himself among Vaher's supporters as well.

Tally: More bickering, one extraordinary and two delayed appointments, perceived lack of unity in IRL

Both of IRL's coalition partners, the Center Party as well as the Social Democrats (SDE), have called this latest curveball out of the coalition's conservative corner both "inappropriate" and an attempt at getting attention.

What is left is the impression that IRL's parliamentary group is dependent on its chairman's solo runs and tidying up after him, the interior minister being forced to temporarily demote the chief of the police and border guard, the delayed confirmation in office of Director-General of the Internal Security Service Arnold Sinisalu, who would have been put up along with Vaher on Apr. 26, and more petty bickering among the government's ministers.

Taking into account that Prime Minister Jüri Ratas' government is also looking at two new incoming ministers after the resignations of Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE) and Jaak Aab (Center), the next 11 months leading up to the 2019 Riigikogu election seem yet to have more of the same in store.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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