Poland's opposition wants defense minister dismissed

AP News
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Posted: Apr 21, 2017 9:36 AM

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The head of Poland's main opposition party said Friday it is calling for the dismissal of Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz, saying his actions and choice of aides raise security questions.

Grzegorz Schetyna said his pro-European Civic Platform party was filing a motion in parliament for a no-confidence vote on Macierewicz. It was not clear when the vote would be held, but it is expected to fail, given the majority the ruling party's majority in parliament.

Schetyna said there are "many reasons" why Macierewicz should go, including his two aides who were treated in a "privileged" way despite lacking proper qualifications for their sensitive jobs. He also pointed to Poland's last-minute withdrawal from a helicopter deal worth billions of euros and a surprise purchase of planes for top officials which, he says, was concluded without the proper public tender procedures.

"Such non-transparent deals raise questions of corruption," Schetyna said.

The ruling populist Law and Justice party won 2015 elections largely on promises its government will be transparent and will fight corruption.

One of Macierewicz's aides, Waclaw Berczynski, an emigre scholar based in the U.S., recently said he was behind the cancellation of the helicopter deal. That provoked an outcry over why a private person was given access to ministry documents.

On Thursday Macierewicz accepted Berczynski's resignation as head of a special commission re-investigating the 2010 plane crash in Russia that killed Poland's President Lech Kaczynski.

The other aide, 27-year-old Bartlomiej Misiewicz, was dismissed under pressure from the ruling party's leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said she was not considering Macierewicz's dismissal.

Macierewicz survived a no-confidence vote last year, due to the ruling party's majority in parliament.