Lithuania's president holds up new government

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 06, 2012 7:20 AM
Lithuania's president holds up new government

VILNIUS (Reuters) - Lithuania's president Dalia Grybauskaite refused on Tuesday to allow a new center-left coalition government to be created until a top court has looked into allegations of voting fraud during the election held at the end of October.

The president has the formal job of naming the prime minister, but parliament votes the government into office, leaving it unclear who would win a constitutional tussle. In the meantime, the current center-right government remains in office.

The Social Democratic Party and its allies won the vote eight days ago against years of austerity under the present government but Grybauskaite, a former European Union budget official, says a new government cannot be formed until the constitutional court has ruled on the election allegations made against a coalition partner, the Labour Party.

"Until there is a final judgment on the election in the constitutional court the president will not consider the possibility of creating any coalitions," her spokeswoman Daiva Ulbinaite told reporters on Tuesday.

The court will make a ruling within 72 hours of the request.

The election commission, which oversees the voting, has already declared the results valid.

If the court finds there were violations the current center-right dominated parliament would have to decide whether to adjust the result to discount tainted constituencies, or call a new election in the affected districts.

One district is already set for a re-run.

Social Democrat leader Algirdas Butkevicius, aiming to be prime minister, met Grybauskaite to assure her that Labour Party officials at the center of the allegations, including its leader, would be denied high office.

Labour Party leader Viktor Uspaskich is still on trial on charges of tax evasion by his party over the years 2004-2006.

New allegations of vote buying emerged after the October election, but Uspaskich has denied any wrongdoing.

The Social Democrats, Labour Party and the Order and Justice Party - led by impeached former president Rolandas Paksas - capitalized on voter anger at years of austerity that restored state finances after the 2008 global crash but led to soaring unemployment and an exodus of people seeking jobs abroad.

(Reporting by Andrius Sytas; Writing by Patrick Lannin; Editing by Greg Mahlich)