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Estonia: Cabinet Threatened With Collapse

Tallinn, 21 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - Estonia's coalition government faced a crisis today after six Cabinet members from the Reform Party announced their intention to resign.

In an open letter released yesterday, the six ministers accused Prime Minister Tiit Vahi and his Coalition party of dealing with the opposition Centre party behind the Reform Party's back.

Mart Siiman, chairman of the Coalition party parliamentary faction, however told today the Baltic News Service that the prime minister had not received the ministers' formal resignations.

The Reform party holds 19 seats in Estonia's 101-member Parliament. The Coalition Party, also with 19 seats, and the third partner, The Country People's Party, are unable to continue governing without new coalition partners.

The Reform Party is scheduled to meet this evening to decide whether to leave the current ruling coalition.

In a separate development Estonia's President Lennart Meri met yesterday with visiting Norwegian Prime Minister Thorbjoern Jagland. The Baltic news service reports bilateral cooperation, the expansion of the European Union and of NATO and relations with Russia were discussed at the meeting.