Decision on University of Latvia rector's reappointment deferred amid legal uncertainty

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RIGA, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- The Latvian government on Tuesday deferred a decision on reappointing Indrikis Muiznieks as rector of the University of Latvia amid uncertainty about the decision's possible legal implications, local media reported.

The ministers, however, agreed to work on reforms to enhance the governance of Latvia's higher education institutions.

At Tuesday's government meeting, representatives of the Education and Science Ministry pointed to a number of alleged violations in the rector's election. The ministry recommended against reappointing Muiznieks for a second term.

Education and Science Minister Ilga Suplinska dismissed some ministers' concerns that the government's refusal to approve Muiznieks' reelection might be interpreted as infringing on the autonomy and academic freedom of Latvia's top university.

The main concerns were voiced about a possible legal action Muiznieks might take and the government's prospects of winning him in court.

Furthermore, the State Chancellery, which released its findings about the issue on Tuesday, admitted that it is impossible to ascertain that the alleged violations had affected the outcome of the rector's election. Several ministers therefore said they were not ready to support the Education and Science Ministry's stance that Muiznieks should be denied the second term as University of Latvia rector.

Suplinska agreed that more time was needed to sort out the legal uncertainties that have arisen in this situation.

The last election of the University of Latvia rector was marred by controversy. In the first vote, which took place on May 24, 2019, Muiznieks only received 141 votes, while 143 votes were cast against him. Still, he was declared winner of the election, which caused public outcry. Later, a repeated poll was held, and this time Muiznieks won the election.

Muiznieks, a professor of biology, was first elected University of Latvia rector in 2015. Enditem

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