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Latvian president nominates populist party candidate for PM post

Nominated Prime Minister's candidate Aldis Gobzems of KPV LV party attends a meeting at the President Raimonds Vejonis' office, in Riga, Latvia November 7, 2018. Picture taken November 7, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

RIGA (Reuters) - Latvia’s president nominated Aldis Gobzems from the populist party KPV LV as prime minister on Monday and gave him two weeks to form a cabinet and secure majority support in parliament following an inconclusive election last month.

Latvians, fed up with corruption and weak democracy in the Baltic country of 2 million, punished the ruling three-party coalition in the October election, leading to a highly fragmented parliament consisting of seven parties.

Gobzems, whose party is the second largest in parliament, is the second candidate to be given a chance to form a government after Janis Bordans of the New Conservative party failed to gather enough support earlier this month.

“What I can promise today is that I will do everything I can for the rest of my life... so that Latvians can live in prosperity and harmony,” said Gobzems, who has called for a shakeup of Latvian democracy.

Gobzems said he would seek to form a government with centre-right parties, excluding Russia-friendly party Harmony, but did not specify how many parties he would try to bring in.

President Raimonds Vejonis has given him until Dec. 10 to form a new coalition.

Latvia has long been plagued by corruption and moneylaundering.

Its central bank governor is awaiting trial on charges of accepting a bribe, which he denies. One of Latvia’s biggest banks, ABLV, went into liquidation this year after U.S. authorities accused it of laundering vast amounts of money for people from the former Soviet Union.

Reporting by Gederts Gelzis; Editing by Johan Ahlander and Gareth Jones