Rolandas Paksas, the former leader of Lithuania's Order and Justice party and now a MEP, say he plans to stand as a candidate in the upcoming presidential election in Lithuania next year, irrespective of any circumstances.
Rolandas Paksas
© DELFI / Karolina Pansevič

"Whether the party picks me as a presidential candidate, or not, I will stand for election on my own. As, nevertheless, I believe that our state has been ignoring rulings of international institutions way too long. I believe we'll find 10,000, 20,000 or 50,000 people who will back my candidacy, and if their will to vote for the candidate they want is not satisfied, then such an election might be considered null and void," Paksas told the Lietuvos Rytas daily.

He also criticized the party's incumbent chairman Remigijus Žemaitaitis' leadership and also hinted he might seek reelection as the party's leader in late September.

The Lithuanian parliament on Thursday made another step towards opening the way for Lithuania's impeached former president Paksas to stand as a candidate in elections.

A respective constitutional amendment on Thursday passed the second reading in the parliament with 63 votes in favor, 21 against and 16 abstentions.

In the next stage, the amendment will require at least 94 votes to be passed.

A constitutional amendment must be debated and voted on twice by the Seimas, with an interval of at least three months between the votes.

The amendment, tabled by the ruling bloc, would allow an impeached person to be elected president or a member of the Seimas following ten years after his or her removal from office.

The opposition has put forward an alternative amendment that would allow an impeached person to run for parliament, but would prevent him or her from being elected as president or holding the post of the speaker of the parliament.

Paksas has been barred from running for either president or national parliament since his impeachment back in 2004 for breaching his oath and the Constitution after he granted Lithuanian citizenship to his key financial supporter, Russian citizen Yuri Borisov by way of exception.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2011 that the lifetime ban on Paksas to stand for parliament was disproportionate and ran counter to the European Convention on Human Rights.

A Lithuanian court is now hearing an influence peddling case involving Paksas and Gedvydas Vainauskas, CEO of the Lietuvos Rytas media group.

Prosecutors suspects that Paksas, as leader of the Order and Justice party in 2015, agreed to accept a bribe for 15,000 euros from Vainauskas.

Both men reject the accusations.

BNS
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