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Latvia's New Coalition Government Vows to Combat Corruption

Latvia has a new coalition government, expected to lead the former Soviet republic through its bid to join NATO and the European Union.

Latvia's new four-party coalition government is headed by former central bank chief, Einars Repse, whose center-right New Era party won the most legislative seats in last month's parliamentary election.

Parliament approved Mr. Repse's pro-business government by a vote of 55 to 43 Thursday. Addressing lawmakers after securing the win, Mr. Repse said his government's main goal would be to combat corruption.

Mr. Repse also has vowed to open all cabinet sessions to the media, as part of a campaign pledge to make Latvia's government more open and accountable.

His party shares power with the Farmers and Greens Union, the For Fatherland and Freedom bloc, and the Latvia First party.

The former central bank chief's government is dominated by political newcomers, since last month's parliamentary elections swept out many of Latvia's veteran politicians.

Analysts say the former ruling party made a mistake in focusing its campaign on foreign policy rather than domestic economic issues.

The new government will oversee historic changes for the small nation of more than two million people. Along with neighboring Estonia and Lithuania, Latvia is likely to enter the European Union in 2004, and expects to be invited to join the NATO military alliance later this month.

This is Latvia's 10th government since it broke from Soviet rule 11 years ago.