President formally releases foreign trade minister from office

Presidential decree releasing Kert Kingo from office, signed by Kersti Kaljulaid.
Presidential decree releasing Kert Kingo from office, signed by Kersti Kaljulaid. Source: ERR

President Kersti Kaljulaid formalized the release from office of former foreign trade and IT minister Kert Kingo (EKRE) on Friday, Baltic News Service reports.

The president had been in Japan when Prime Minister Jüri Ratas sent the document requesting Kingo, who resigned on Wednesday evening following allegations that she had lied to the Riigikogu, be alleviated of her duties.

President Kaljulaid said she waited to return to Estonian soil before signing the document, as she didn't view the release of a minister as simply a technicality.

The president said she also wanted to meet the prime minister to discuss the scope of the foreign trade and IT minister's role.

"This is a very important position. Estonian entrepreneurs need an advocate in the minister for conquering the world," Kaljulaid said, according to BNS.

"I hope that a good candidate who is competent, interested in the work, knowledgeable, and wishes to travel globally and tell the story of Estonia, will be found as soon as possible," the president added.

Kingo had faced criticism multiple times since taking on the role in May for taking minimal working trips abroad, despite the foreign trade and IT minister role requiring just that, as its name suggests, as well as opting to use Estonian, via an interpreter, as a working language as opposed to English, and avoiding government press conferences.

On Monday, Kingo told the Riigikogu in response to questions from multiple MPs, that she had not hired, nor even met, Jakko Väli, a former Green Party member who had made various social media posts stating he would be working for Kingo as an adviser.

However, a ministry of economic affairs and communication spokesperson said on Wednesday that a work contract for Väli along with other work-related preparations had been drawn up, indicating that Kingo had indeed hired Väli.

The revelations prompted Kingo to step down following a Conservative People's Party of Estona (EKRE) meeting.

Interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE) is to fill the foreign trade and IT minister role in the meantime, following Kingo's departure, according to BNS.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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