Lithuania's Skvernelis to stay on as PM, scrapping vow to quit

FILE PHOTO - Lithuanian President candidate Saulius Skvernelis speaks during a public discussion in Vilnius, Lithuania April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

VILNIUS (Reuters) - Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on Tuesday he will remain in his post, going back on a pledge to resign after his defeat in his bid to win election as president in May.

Skvernelis, a former chief of police who spearheaded the Farmers and Greens Union Party election campaign in 2016, ran for president in May but failed to advance beyond the first round in the vote.

Skvernelis said during the campaign that he would quit as prime minister if he failed to win, and confirmed on election night that he would step down.

“If there were other political forces (willing) to create a new coalition and a new government, it would have been easier for me, but today’s situation is that, with 1.5 years to go until the general election, no one wants to take the responsibility,” Skvernelis told reporters in Vilnius after meeting with newly elected President Gitanas Nauseda.

“The decision (to resign) was purely emotional, maybe I shouldn’t have said it right then, on election night.”

Lithuania is to hold its next general election in October next year.

Skvernelis came third in the first round of the presidential election, leaving Ingrida Simonyte, a former finance minister, and Nauseda, an economist, to compete in the decisive run-off.

Skvernelis said at the time that he wanted to be president, a semi-executive position, in order to support his parliamentary coalition ahead of the general election.

His government faces a confidence vote in parliament next week, triggered by the inauguration of Nauseda on July 12.

Reporting by Andrius Sytas; Editing by Johan Ahlander and Mark Heinrich