New Latvian president takes office Monday

Egils Levits.
Egils Levits. Source: LETA/SCANPIX

New Latvian President Egils Levits takes office on Monday, ERR's online news in Estonian reports, replacing outgoing head of state Raimonds Vējonis.

An extraordinary meeting of the Saeima, the Latvian Parliament, convenes at 9.00 a.m., where the president-elect will take his oath. At 12.00 p.m., a ceremony at Riga's Freedom Monument will present the newly-installed president to the Latvian people.

Outgoing president Vējonis is to then symbolically hand over the keys to Riga Castle, official residence of Latvian presidents, to President-Elect Levits, with a reception marking the occasion rounding off the day's events at the National Library at 6 p.m.

Visiting Estonia is one of the incoming president's first engagements, arriving on Wednesday to meet Estonian counterpart Kersti Kaljulaid, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) and Riigikogu speaker Henn Põlluaas (EKRE). The new Latvian president is also set to visit the memorial to victims of Communism at Maarjamäe, in Tallinn, it is reported.

Egils Levits, 64, was elected by the Saeima on May 29. A lawyer by profession he has also served as a diplomat, having been Lavtian Ambassador to Germany and several other European nations, as well as deputy prime minister, and justice minister.

He was a justice at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for nine years, 1995-2004, and was long-serving Latvian representation to the EU's European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Levits' new constitutional role lies, echoing his country's geographical location, some way between the Estonian president's wholly ceremonial function, and the Lithuanian head of state's more far-reaching powers. A part of the executive, Latvian presidents' orders must nonetheless be countersigned by either the prime minister or another member of the cabinet.

Latvia also got a new prime minister at the start of the year, Krišjānis Kariņš (Unity).

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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