The Lithuanian parliament voted by a wide margin February 8 to approve a presidential decree dismissing Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius. Addressing the parliament before the vote, President Algirdas Brazauskas recounted his unheeded requests to Slezevicius over the past month to resign because of public disapproval of his political and financial misconduct in the country’s banking crisis. Slezevicius maintained in a speech to the deputies and in a string of follow-up statements that he saw no reason to step down and blamed his dismissal on "intrigues" by presidential circles and mafia interests. The ruling Democratic Labor Party’s presidium, chaired by Slezevicius himself, had instructed DLP deputies to vote against the motion to dismiss the prime minister. Nevertheless, the tally was 94 for dismissal and 26 against, with 4 abstentions and 16 deputies not voting, The vote demonstrated that Slezevicius had lost the support of most of the DLP’s remaining 69 deputies in the 140-seat parliament. As required by the constitution, the entire cabinet resigned following the prime minister’s dismissal.
President Brazauskas the same day nominated the incumbent minister for local government and administrative reforms, Mindaugas Stankevicius, as Lithuania’s new prime minister. Stankevicius, 60, is an economist and a DLP member. The president asked all ministers to continue serving in an acting capacity pending Stankevicius’s confirmation by the parliament; Brazauskas indicated that most ministers would be reappointed in order to ensure continuity in government. The Slezevicius government has been in office since March 1993, but the DLP has since lost its absolute majority in parliament. Slezevicius’s controversial role in the banking crisis, which broke out in December 1995, appears to have accelerated the party’s fragmentation. Presaging further controversy within the party, the DLP Council resolved yesterday to retain Slezevicius as leader until a party congress scheduled for May. (15)
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