Poland pres­i­dent in cri­sis talks as sit-in con­tin­ues

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Pol­ish Pres­i­dent An­drzej Duda scram­bled yes­ter­day to defuse a po­lit­i­cal cri­sis as op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers oc­cu­pied par­lia­ment for a fourth day to protest at an “il­le­gal” bud­get vote and plans to re­strict me­dia ac­cess to the cham­ber. Thou­sands of demon­stra­tors have taken to the streets since Fri­day in Warsaw and other parts of the coun­try in the lat­est pop­u­lar ac­tion against moves deemed anti-demo­cratic by the gov­ern­ing rightwing Law and Jus­tice party (PiS) since it took of­fice af­ter Oc­to­ber 2015 elec­tions.

Dozens of op­po­si­tion MPs seized par­lia­ment’s main cham­ber and pro­test­ers blocked the ex­its to the build­ing on Fri­day in a de­fi­ant show of anger against the gov­ern­ment. Thou­sands of pro­test­ers-grouped in a pop­u­lar move­ment called the Com­mit­tee for the De­fence of Democ­racy-ral­lied out­side par­lia­ment in sup­port of the op­po­si­tion MPs un­til late Sun­day.

A smaller pro-gov­ern­ment rally took place out­side the pres­i­den­tial palace. In Krakow on Sun­day, po­lice re­moved pro­test­ers who laid on the ground to block the car of in­flu­en­tial PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczyn­ski, who was vis­it­ing the grave of his twin brother, for­mer pres­i­dent Lech Kaczyn­ski who died in a plane crash in Rus­sia in 2010. Duda, who has ap­pealed for calm, launched me­di­a­tion talks with op­po­si­tion lead­ers on Sun­day. The pres­i­dent sched­uled fur­ther meet­ings yes­ter­day with Kaczyn­ski and par­lia­ment speaker Marek Kuchcin­ski.

Op­po­si­tion lead­ers told the me­dia following the talks with Duda they had de­manded the pro­posed me­dia lim­its be dropped. Kaczyn­ski has in­di­cated that his party is ready to dis­cuss the new rules with jour­nal­ists, and the of­fi­cial news agency PAP quoted an un­named mem­ber of the gov­ern­ment as say­ing he is “not happy” with the mea­sures.

‘Il­le­gal’ bud­get vote

The op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers also called for re­run of a par­lia­ment vote on next year’s bud­get, which they claim was ap­proved il­le­gally when it was held in an­other area of par­lia­ment af­ter the op­po­si­tion takeover of the main cham­ber. Since tak­ing of­fice, the PiS has come un­der fire over a string of con­tro­ver­sial mea­sures in­clud­ing tight­en­ing its con­trol over the me­dia and push­ing through changes to the con­sti­tu­tional court which led to a stand­off with the Euro­pean Union.

Yes­ter­day marks that last day in of­fice of the out­go­ing pres­i­dent of the con­sti­tu­tional court, An­drzej Rzeplin­ski, a sym­bol of re­sis­tance to the gov­ern­ment. The ques­tion of his suc­ces­sor has be­come an­other bone of con­tention be­tween the court and the PiS-dom­i­nated par­lia­ment. The lat­est op­po­si­tion out­cry was trig­gered by PiS plans to grant ac­cess to the par­lia­ment’s press gallery to only two jour­nal­ists for every me­dia out­let, and ban them from shoot­ing still pic­tures or video.

The moves pre­vent the me­dia from record­ing images of law­mak­ers when they break the rules, for ex­am­ple by vot­ing for an ab­sent col­league. The PiS has de­fended the mea­sure, say­ing it was seek­ing to en­sure a com­fort­able work­ing en­vi­ron­ment for both law­mak­ers and jour­nal­ists. Duda yes­ter­day also ap­proved a law low­er­ing the re­tire­ment age to 65 for men and to 60 for women. The for­mer cen­trist gov­ern­ment had raised the limit for both sexes to 67. The new law-which the op­po­si­tion says would harm the econ­omy-was among the prom­ises made by the PiS dur­ing its elec­toral cam­paign. — AFP

WARSAW: Peo­ple at­tend the anti-gov­ern­ment demon­stra­tion of op­po­si­tion par­ties’ sup­port­ers and Com­mit­tee for the De­fense of Democ­racy move­ment (KOD) the day af­ter par­lia­ment cri­sis in front of build­ing of Pol­ish Par­lia­ment. — AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.