Lithuania’s Constitutional Court accuses ruling party of interference

On Tuesday, Lithuania’s ruling coalition turned to the country’s President Gitanas Nausėda, asking to dismiss the president of the Constitutional Court Dainius Žalimas when his term ends.

Žalimas later called the address signed by Ramūnas Karbauskis, leader of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LVŽS), “unacceptable interference in this court’s activity”.

Lithuania’s ruling coalition turned to the president over Žalimas after the Constitutional Court said a commission set up for an ad-hoc parliamentary investigation was unlawful.

The court said the commission cannot investigate wide-ranging issues of its own choosing, and investigations should be reserved for matters of high importance to the state.

The commission was led by Agnė Širinskienė from the Farmers and Greens Union and chair of the parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs.

Meanwhile, the issue with Constitutional Court appointees began in April, when the parliament  rejected all proposed candidates to replace three judges, including Žalimas, ended in March.

Under the Constitution, a third of the nine judges of the Constitutional Court are replaced every three years and they cannot be reappointed once the nine-year term ends.

Political pressure

The court said on Tuesday that outgoing judges must continue to serve until their replacements are appointed so as to ensure the institutution’s continuous work.

There is no basis to question the legitimacy of the current composition of Lithuania’s Constitutional Court and raising unfounded doubts constitutes political pressure, the court said.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda’s aid said the ruling coalition MPs were acting irresponsibly and pushing the country towards a constitutional crisis.

“The president believes that every state institution has to responsibly act within the limits of its mandate. […] All institutions must make an effort to ensure the independence of institutions exercising justice,” Antanas Bubnelis, spokesman for the president, told BNS.

“Pushing towards a constitutional crisis is a very irresponsible step,” he added.

According to the spokesman, “if Seimas members have doubts about the constitutionality of some laws and the way rulings of the Constitutional Court should be understood, they can take actions to eliminate those doubts [by] asking the Constitutional Court for a clarification. The president has no such doubts.”

Dainius Žalimas, president of the Constitutional Court, continues to perform his duties.


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