Author`s name Pravda.Ru

Lithuania: Kirkilas appointed as new prime minister

Kirkilas, 54, was defense minister in the scandal-ridden coalition government that collapsed last month. Lawmakers approved his appointment by 85 votes to 13 in the 141-seat assembly. Five lawmakers abstained and 38 were absent.

Kirkilas, who needed the approval of a majority of lawmakers present during the vote, now has 15 days to cobble together a Cabinet that must also be endorsed by parliament.

It would the small country's 14th government since gaining independence amid the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Last week, parliament rejected President Valdas Adamkus' first choice for a new prime minister, acting Finance Minister Zigmantas Balcytis, another Social Democrat.

Kirkilas' approval was expected after the Conservative Party said last week it would clear the way for the appointment by staying away from the vote, allowing Kirkilas' leftist Social Democrats to muster a majority. In return for their tacit support, the Conservatives expect several key parliamentary committee posts.

A former art restorer, Kirkilas has served in the Lithuanian parliament, or Seimas, since 1992, and was appointed defense minister in 2004, according to the AP.