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May 28, 2017

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Lithuania's president puts brakes on leftist gov't plan

VILNIUS--Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite threw up a roadblock Monday to the plans of the left-wing and populist parties to form a governing coalition in the wake of their general election victory, saying the Labour party should be denied a slot because of claims of vote-buying and a fraud probe of its leader.

The center-left Social Democrats, plus left-wing populists Labour and the right-wing populist Order and Justice movement had been expected to form a government smoothly after voters ground down by austerity evicted the centre-right in Sunday's polls.

They now have a combined 80 seats in the Baltic state's 141-member parliament, and had already launched coalition talks after beating the ruling Conservatives in a first round of voting on Oct. 14.

But Grybauskaite's opposition threw plans into disarray.

"A party that during an election is suspected of being at the root of the largest number of cases of electoral fraud, which is suspected of tax fraud and the leaders of which have been charged in a criminal investigation cannot be involved in forming a government," she told reporters.

"I will only back a political grouping that can form a majority government without Labour, which is in the dock," she added.

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