Sun, 25 Aug 2019

Banker-turned-politician Gitanas Nauseda won Lithuania's presidential runoff election after his opponent Ingrida Simonyte conceded.

Nauseda, 55, had around 74 percent of the vote, according to election authorities after a quarter of the ballots were counted.

Simonyte, 44, a lawmaker and former finance minister, had around 26 percent.

Lithuanians headed to the polls on May 26 after the May 12 first round failed to produce a clear winner.

Nauseda will succeed Dalia Grybauskaite, who has served the maximum of two 5-year terms as Lithuania's head of state in the Baltic country bordering Russia, which is a member of the European Union and NATO.

The election campaign was dominated by voters' anger over economic inequality and corruption.

Nauseda pledged to maintain a strict tone toward Russia, saying he would not travel to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin unless the country withdraws from Ukraine's Crimea region.

NATO increased its assets in Central and Eastern Europe, including in Lithuania, following Russia's seizure of the Crimean Peninsula in March 2014.

Vilnius faces tense relations with Moscow. The Baltic country has arrested and charged several people in recent months accused of spying for Russia.

The Lithuanian president has limited powers, but is in charge of foreign policy and is the country's representative at EU summits.

The president also appoints ministers, judges, the military chief, and central bank head, usually with the approval of parliament or the prime minister.

Based on reporting by AP, dpa, and AFP

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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