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Lithuania does not need a president
Lithuania does not need a president, argues Vytas Tomkus, editor-in-chief of the Respublika daily and, paradoxically, a presidential hopeful. It took the prominent journalist a mere several days to collect 24,000 public signatures in his support, as against a threshold 20,000, and offer the list to the High Election Commission. All supporters of Mr. Tomkus are campaigning with him to abolish presidency. A total seven are running for today in a pre-term presidential race after Rolandas Paksas' impeachment. Parliament forced him to resign on charges of non-compliance with the Constitution and disloyalty to his presidential oath. Though Mr. Paksas offered his supporters' signatures on schedule, the High Commission unanimously voted against his registration on the campaign in compliance with amended presidential election legislation. Parliament hurriedly passed an amendment last week to ban an impeached president's contention for the post within five years since his dismissal. Suggestively, previous media reports said that the amendment had got through an initial reading alone, and so gave no grounds to bar Paksas off the race. Close on a thousand sympathizers of the controversial ex-president rallied in Vilnius yesterday. Public activists enthusiastically spoke for appeals to Lithuania's Supreme Administrative Court, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, says the Vilnius-based ELTA news agency. The High Election Commission will announce a final list of presidential hopefuls, May 18. The presidential poll has been scheduled for June 13.
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