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Polish lawmakers appear with president as police ordered to take them to prison

In World
January 09, 2024

WARSAW – Poland’s president posed next to two lawmakers as police were searching for them to put them in prison on Tuesday amid an standoff between the government and the head of state over their status.

The pictures, posted on social media platform X by President Andrzej Duda’s office, were the latest salvo in a row that is likely to be one of many conflicts during a period of cohabitation, where the government and head of state are from different political camps.

In 2015, weeks after the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party came to power, its ally Duda issued a pardon to Mariusz Kaminski, allowing him to become interior minister.

Lawyers questioned whether Duda was entitled to pardon him before an appeals court issued a final ruling. The Supreme Court said last year that the case should be reopened.

Kaminski and his deputy Maciej Wasik were sentenced in December to two years in prison for abuse of power. Media have reported that the police were looking for their former bosses on Tuesday to take them to prison.

According to the post by Duda’s office, the president told two new advisers during a ceremony to mark their appointment that “the best proof of your pro-state patriotism is the fact that you have cooperated with Ministers Mariusz Kaminki and Maciej Wasik in recent years”.

According to many lawyers and the speaker of the lower house of parliament, the Sejm, Szymon Holownia, the December verdict meant Kaminski and Wasik lost their parliamentary mandates. But both denied that and planned to attend the next sitting.

Duda met Holownia on Monday to try to convince him his pardon was valid and the court had no right to issue a second verdict in their case, but they did not come to an agreement.

“The sitting planned this week will be moved to next week… there is one reason for this decision – my task is to ensure the dignity of the Sejm and social calm,” speaker Szymon Holownia said.

The parliament had been due to vote on the 2024 budget at this week’s sitting. It has until the end of January to send it to the president for him to sign. If it does not do this the president can dissolve parliament. REUTERS

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