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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Paksas Says He's on a Comeback

VILNIUS, Lithuania -- Rolandas Paksas, the only European president to be removed from office by impeachment, said Monday that his party's good showing in Lithuania's local elections on Sunday marked the start of his political comeback.

Paksas, a Soviet-trained stunt pilot, was removed by parliament in 2004 for abuse of power shortly before Lithuania joined the European Union and NATO. He is barred from becoming prime minister or president, but has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights to overturn his impeachment.

His Order and Justice Party (Liberal Democrats) won almost 23.8 percent of the vote in the capital Vilnius in Sunday's nationwide local elections.

"Voters have realized that this [impeachment] was a coup d'etat and [that] justice has prevailed," he told journalists.

His party's strong vote in the capital was the start of his "rehabilitation," he added.

Paksas has said he expects the European rights court to uphold his complaint against the state and make it lift the ban on his right to hold high office.

His party came in third overall, behind the Conservative Homeland Union, which won the most votes, and the Social Democrats of Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas, which came in second.

Paksas said he would run for Vilnius mayor, a post he has held twice before and from which he is not barred, but analysts said his chances were slim.

The Conservative Homeland Union has said it will form a "clean hands" coalition to exclude Paksas, and the party's leader, Andrius Kubilius , said his party would continue to back Kirkilas's four-party, center-left minority national government.

Voter turnout Sunday was just 39.7 percent of 2.7 million registered voters, the second-lowest turnout since Lithuania left the Soviet Union in 1991.

That turnout figure compared with 46.08 percent in the last parliamentary election in 2004.