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2019.09.20 11:00

MPs draft constitutional amendment to allow impeached president Paksas to run for parliament

BNS2019.09.20 11:00

Lithuanian MPs drafted a constitutional amendment to allow the country's impeached president Rolandas Paksas to run for parliament.

The proposed amendment, registered on Thursday, paves the way for a person who has been impeached and removed from office to stand for election again, but no sooner than a decade after the removal.

The bill would not, however, allow an impeached individual to run for president or assume any other office that requires giving a constitutional oath.

The constitutional amendment was submitted by 95 MPs, including the speaker of the Seimas and leaders of both the ruling and opposition political groups.

Paksas, who was impeached and removed from the president's office in 2005 without the right to ever run in any election, sued Lithuania with the European Court of Human Rights and won the case.

The Strasbourg-based court ruled back in 2011 that a lifetime ban for an impeached official to run for elected office was a disproportionate measure and ran counter to the European Convention on Human Rights.

The proposed amendment would implement the ECHR ruling.

“We need to take that step in any case, since Lithuania is under criticism for failing to defend human rights,” Seimas Speaker Viktoras Pranckietis noted.

The Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, which supervises the execution of the ECHR's rulings, has applied the so-called enhanced supervision procedure to Lithuania for failing to amend its laws to allow Paksas to run for office.

The Lithuanian parliament has made several unsuccessful attempts to adopt the necessary amendments. The last bid was made almost a year ago, but the proposed constitutional amendment, which would have allowed Paksas to run for both parliament and presidency, also failed to get the necessary 94 votes.

Paksas was ousted through impeachment in April 2004 after the Lithuanian Constitutional Court ruled that he had grossly violated the Constitution and the oath of office by granting Lithuanian citizenship to Yuri Borisov, a Russian businessman who financed his presidential campaign.

The Constitutional Court later clarified that a person removed from office through impeachment cannot hold any office that required giving a constitutional oath. The provision can only be changed with a constitutional amendment that requires a special majority in parliament to pass.