IT and foreign trade minister Kert Kingo submits resignation

Kert Kingo
Kert Kingo Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Foreign Trade and Information Technology Minister Kert Kingo submitted her resignation to Prime Minister Jüri Ratas on Wednesday evening, a Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) spokesperson said.

"In the current situation, I do not consider it possible to continue as a minister," said Kert Kingo.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas confirmed on social media on Wednesday evening that he had received Kingo resignation, which he then forwarded electronically to President Kersti Kaljulaid.

"I commend Minister Kingo for a difficult decision, but in the current situation it was clear that it would be very difficult to continue in office, for herself, her party, and the entire government," Ratas said.

"The politician must be open in their dealings with their colleagues and the public, as well as providing clear and exhaustive answers to legitimate questions on unpleasant topics. I hope Kert Kingo will draw some serious conclusions from this, the first step of which was certainly her high-profile decision to resign," he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, opposition leaders and MPs called for the resignation of Kingo, saying that she lied to the Riigikogu about the appointment of Jakko Väli as her adviser.

Väli himself was kicked out of the Green Party after making allegedly offensive remarks about a former politician.

Kert Kingo told the Riigikogu on Monday that she had not met Jakko Väli or talked to him about becoming her advisor.

"I have not met him, I will say straight away, I have not met him. I can say it very confidently. We have not met, we have not talked about this," Kingo told MP Hanno Pevkur (Reform), reiterating the line to MP Signe Riisalo (Reform), who asked if any officials from her ministry had tried to hire Väli, according to ERR. 

However, Kingo in fact allegedly sent a request for an employment contract, which resulted in a contract for Väli being drawn up three days before she made her remarks.

Economic affairs minister spokesperson Rasmus Ruuda told ERR Wednesday that all the normal provisions for a new employee, such as a computer work station, and payroll details had been set up for Väli.

Political advisers to ministers are selected either by the minister or by their party, but in the latter case the consent of the minster is still required.

Väli himself, a former Tallinn TV presenter, announced on his own social media page on Oct. 18 that he was to take up the post.

Increasingly fractious social media and regular media discussions on the matter reportedly culminated in Väli responding by posting messages described as at obscene, obscene, and degrading by the media.

Väli was expelled from the Green Party on Tuesday as a result. 

Kingo was appointed in early May following the resignation of another, even more short-lived foreign trade and IT minister, Marti Kuusik. Kuusik resigned after one day following media allegations of domestic violence. At the time, the newly-formed coalition government had faced calls for Kuusik's replacement to be a woman.

During her term as minister, Kingo faced criticism for, among other things, shunning foreign travel in a role which requires it, refusing to use English as a working language in international meetings, using a Huawei smartphone despite security concerns, and dodging government press conferences.


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Editor: Helen Wright, Andrew Whyte

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