Latvian parliament chooses defense minister as president

AP News
Posted: Jun 03, 2015 11:38 AM

RIGA, Latvia (AP) — Latvian lawmakers have chosen the defense minister as the Baltic country's next president.

It took five rounds of voting Wednesday before Raimonds Vejonis got the backing of a majority of lawmakers in the 100-seat Parliament.

Vejonis defeated Egils Levits, a judge of the European Court of Justice, in a runoff after two other candidates were eliminated in earlier rounds.

But he failed to get a majority in the runoff, forcing a final round of voting where he ran unopposed and got 55 votes.

The 48-year-old Vejonis will replace incumbent Andris Berzins, who didn't seek another four-year term, citing family reasons.

Vejonis' background as defense minister was seen as a strength in a country put on edge by Russia's intervention in Ukraine.

Latvia regained independence in 1991 amid the Soviet collapse.