Poland's Duda Risks New Tensions With Ruling Party Over Army
Polish President Andrzej Duda, who fell out with the ruling party last month over judicial reform, risked escalating tension by blocking army appointments proposed by the NATO member’s government, Bloomberg reported.
Duda refused to sign off on the appointments of dozens of generals because of a lack of clarity over the proposed new system of command, according to Marcin Skowron, a spokesman for the National Security Bureau, which supports the president in his constitutional defense duties. Skowron couldn’t confirm on Wednesday the number of blocked appointments, which Polish media put at 46. The new generals were set to replace top brass removed by Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz.
Duda’s decision follows his partial veto in July of government court overhauls amid nationwide street protests and warnings from the European Union and U.S. over risks to democracy. That move took the ruling Law & Justice party, which backed Duda’s successful campaign for the presidency, by surprise. The spat over the army comes as Poland and its neighbors host more troops from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s western members to deter what they say is Russian meddling.
The president’s decision doesn’t imply there’s a conflict between Duda and Macierewicz, according to a statement by head of presidential chancellery Halina Szymanska. Proposed changes to the system of the unified command, including key personnel decisions, are aimed at adjusting the army to new challenges and are being consulted with the president, said Anna Peziol-Wojtowicz, spokeswoman at the Defense Ministry.
Since Macierewicz took over the Defense Ministry, 90 percent of the General Staff’s leadership and more than 80 percent of the army’s top brass has left.
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