Adamkus lashes out at the coalition's ruling council

  • 2006-01-25
  • By Milda Seputyte
VILNIUS - President Valdas Adamkus struck out at the political council of the four-party ruling coalition, claiming it was over-reaching its authority and encroaching on the competency of the government and legislature.

Adamkus suggested that the political council, which doesn't have the mandate of the nation, was acting in an awkward and uncoordinated way. "The political council has agreed to come together on things it has not yet consented on," he said.

"First of all, regardless of what [the council] may decide in the future, I find it unacceptable that [it] is trying to make decisions that lie within the competence of the government or legislative authorities," said Adamkus, who had never been invited to the meetings of the ruling council.

Leaders of the political council unanimously rejected the criticism, claiming the president was mistaken.

In the past the political council 's which includes Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas, Speaker Arturas Paulauskas, Labor Party leader Viktor Uspaskich and Agriculture Minister Kazimira Prunskiene's has been criticized for wavering on crucial policy.

Adamkus, who is on holiday in Mexico, said he did not understand the council's decision on natural gas regulation, forming new ministries and "VAT discounts on frozen meat."

"I disagree that this political council should take over the powers of the government or even legislative powers. Who will then assume responsibility for these decisions. Will it be this very political council?" Adamkus wrote.

Members of the ruling coalition responded emotionally, claiming the president's words were off the mark.

Parliamentary Chairman Arturas Paulauskas rejected the president's criticism, saying members of the coalitional council don't make decisions but share opinions.

Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas said he believed the president didn't get the full picture about the last meeting of the council. "Our council negotiates but doesn't make any decisions and never will. Decisions are made by those institutions that have the authority to do so," Brazauskas said.

The poignant reaction to criticism, Adamkus said a couple days later, revealed how topical the problem was.

"The ongoing discussion in society and the emotional reaction of some members in the political council show the topicality of the problem," he said.

Political analysts share Adamkus' opinion, saying the nature of the council confronted the democratic division of powers.

"Indeed, the political council and its behaviour today is becoming an instrument which helps a small group of politicians to dictate decisions to the whole majority of the Seimas [Lithuania's parliament] in one way or the other," said political analyst Lauras Bielinis.

"We could say 's what's wrong with this picture? But when we take into account a provision saying that the decisions of the council are obligatory to coalitional partners, we have to understand that, once decided in the political council, in the Seimas things go through automatically," Belienis explained.

Bilienis urged society to decide whether it needed a fourth branch in the political system on top of a legislative, executive and legal one.

The opposition has also criticized the council, saying it is reflective of the coalition's overall character.

Opposition leader Andrius Kubilius described the political council as a market where the most common activity is bartering.

He supported the president's worries, as "there were doubts about the constitutional grounds for its functioning."

In addition, leaders of the ruling coalition said they no longer wanted to be referred to as the political council. Instead, they agreed that their new name should be the coalition council.