VILNIUS - Deputy Interior Minister Regimantas Ciupaila is one step closer in receiving an official endorsement from Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas to replace Raimondas Sukys, who resigned last month from the post.
Kirkilas has said Ciupaila is a good choice for the post, the prime minister's advisor Nermia Pumprickaite told The Baltic Times. Pumprickaite said no other official statements have been made in the government regarding the Interior Minister position.
The Liberal and Center Union announced Ciupaila's candidacy Nov. 27 after the party chairman, Arturas Zuokas, nominated him during a party meeting.
"He's already deeply involved in ministry work and will be the best [candidate] for the minister's job. It's best to keep him in the ministry," Zuokas said.
President Valdas Adamkus accepted the resignations of Interior Minister Sukys and Police Commissar General Vytautas Grigaravicius on Nov. 12. Both men resigned days after a road accident in which a police officer in the Skuodas district killed three ten-year-old boys, causing a national uproar.
By law the president must approve the Interior Minister candidate, who will then in turn pick the police commissioner.
If Ciupaila is approved by President Adamkus Dec. 10, he will start his job in February and only then decide who will lead the 15,000-strong Lithuanian police department.
The Liberal and Center Union told the prime minister on Nov. 28 that this party wants an independent specialist, one not directly involved in the police system, to choose the next police commissioner.
"We see the problems inside the police department. Sukys knows that too, and we all want to make this more transparent," Zuokas said, referring to Sukys' less-than-successful attempts to reform the police system during his tenure.
According to the Law on Police Activities adopted in October 2000, both the President and the Prime Minister control the police commissioner. However, changes to the law in 2004 loosened the president's power over the commissioner. The president now only has the exclusive right to dismiss the commissioner from office.
"It looks like now the president can't control the police commissioner's activityâ€¦ In our opinion it is one of the main problems because it is a closed system without any necessary control from the Ministry of Interior or parliamentary control," said Zuokas.
Ciupaila graduated from Vilnius University in 1979 with a degree in mathematics and then became a lecturer on public administration at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University.
Since 2003, he has been a member of the Liberal and Central Union board.
Former Vilnius Deputy Mayor Algimantas Vakarinas is likely to replace Ciupaila as number two in the ministry. He is known for being the right hand of former Vilnius Mayor Zuokas, the chairman of the Liberal and Center Union.