Political Crisis in Warsaw Kaczynski Fires Interior Minister

Poland's interior minister has been fired. He is the 16th Polish minister to have gotten the pink slip since early July. Could this mean early elections and the end of the conservative ruling coalition?


Janusz Kaczmarek lost his job as Poland's interior minister Wednesday due to suspicions that he hampered a government corruption investigation.
AFP

Janusz Kaczmarek lost his job as Poland's interior minister Wednesday due to suspicions that he hampered a government corruption investigation.

Poland's political situation further deteriorated Wednesday when Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski gave the boot to his interior minister, thereby greatly increasing the chances of early elections.

Kaczynski expelled the official, Janusz Kaczmarek, on the suspicion that he had leaked information to the public that hampered an investigation into possible corruption by then coalition leader and Deputy Prime Minister Andrzej Lepper.

Kaczmarek denied the charges and told Poland's PAP news agency: "I am not the source of the leak." Konrad Kornatowski, the national police chief who answered to Kaczmarek, resigned later in the day.

Lepper's dismissal in July has been followed by a domino-like chain of official replacements. Since then, 16 people have gained and lost the title of minister for various government positions.

The conservative ruling governing coalition, led by Kaczynski's Law and Justice party, has been unravelling as a result of the political turmoil. If Lepper's Self-Defense party and the League of Polish Families, another junior collation partner, leave the fold, early elections might be the only way out of the crisis. Recent polls have Kaczynski's party trailing the liberal opposition party Civic Platform by 10 to 12 percentage points.

"Personally, I'm all for them," Kaczynski told a press conference, referring to early elections. Regular parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2009. Once parliament reconvenes on Aug. 22, following its summer recess, a decision will be made about early elections.

Kaczynski's pledge to put a stop to widespread political corruption and liberate Poland from post-communist influences aided his ascension to the prime minister's office.

jtw/ap/reuters

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