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2019.07.18 10:54

Lithuanian president nominates Skvernelis for reappointment as PM

BNS 2019.07.18 10:54

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda nominated Saulius Skvernelis to continue as prime minister on Thursday.

“I am nominating (Skvernelis) in view of the fact that his candidature is supported by the majority of the Seimas and in order to ensure an efficiently functioning government that has the parliament's confidence,” the new president told lawmakers.

Skvernelis returned his cabinet's powers to Nausėda after the president was sworn in last Friday. The procedure, which is sometimes called ‘courtesy resignation’, is required by the Constitution.

Nausėda said that the political experience Skvernelis has gained as prime minister and, previously, as interior minister will help him overcome challenges.

The Seimas is expected to vote on Skvernelis' reappointment next Tuesday.

The prime minister and the president will also have to agree on a reshuffled cabinet of ministers.

Skvernelis says that more than one minister will be replaced, which means that the Seimas will have to vote not only on his reappointment, but also to endorse the government's programme.

The additional vote will be needed because more than half of Skvernelis' Cabinet will have been replaced since it received the mandate in 2016.

President Nausėda expects the make-up a reshuffled Cabinet to become known in the coming days. He said that Prime Minister Skvernelis has not given him a concrete list yet.

“We've exchanged views [with the prime minister]; there's no concrete list. It's going to emerge in the coming days and [...] I think we'll be able to submit these candidacies for approval,” he told reporters after nominating Skvernelis for reappointment as prime minister.

Skvernelis had previously said he would step down after failing to make it to the presidential election runoff earlier this year, but later changed his mind.

Four political parties – the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, the Lithuanian Social Democratic Labor Party (LSDDP), the Order and Justice, and the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania–Christian Families Alliance – signed a new coalition agreement several weeks ago.

The Farmers and Greens now control 12 out of 14 ministries, with the remaining two portfolios held by the LSDDP.

Read more: Game of Posts – Lithuanian government reshuffle to test Nausėda's leadership

Under the new deal, the Farmers and Greens' coalition partners are to be given a total of five ministerial portfolios in the new Cabinet.

Nausėda reiterated his call on the ruling bloc “not to experiment with” the post of the defence minister, a portfolio that goes to the Order and Justice party under the new deal.

According to the president, Raimundas Karoblis, the current minister, has been performing well and has plans for the future.

“Let me remind you that a key NATO summit is approaching on December 4 to outline plans for the future of this organization and, in particular, with a focus on our Baltic region,” Nausėda said.

“So there's very serious work to be done and we can't experiment now,” he added.

Skvernelis also said on Thursday he expects to have Finance Minister Vilius Šapoka continue in the post.

“I've spoken to him and I believe there's a high probability of the minister staying on,” he told reporters.

Nausėda has previously said he would like to see some women in the Cabinet, which currently has no female ministers, after the reshuffle.