Poland's junior coalition partners may quit Kaczynski government
Jul 16, 2007, 11:07 GMT
Warsaw - The leaders of Poland's two junior coalition partners were set to decide Monday afternoon whether to quit the tri- party Law and Justice (PiS) government of Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a move which could precipitate early elections this autumn.
Sacked last week from the post of deputy prime minister over allegations of corruption, Andrzej Lepper, leader of the populist Samoobrona farmers party, said Monday his party wants to quit the coalition with PiS.
But a final decision would be made after consultations with Roman Giertych, head of the Catholic nationalist League of Polish Families (LPR) junior PiS coalition partner.
Last week Lepper and Giertych suggested they may quit the government and join their parties into a new formation, Liga and Samoobrona (LiS).
Lepper has called for a special parliamentary commission to probe an Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA) operation which he claims tried to frame him for bribe-taking.
'The role of politicians in this case, perhaps the prime minister in all this, in thinking up this entire affair, must be investigated,' Lepper told reporters in Warsaw.
Lepper alleged the CBA, created by Kaczynski's government to rid the state of graft, was being used as political police to eliminate PiS rivals.
Opposition politicians have demanded the CBA be dismantled.
Kaczynski announced Lepper's shock dismissal from the post of deputy prime minister and agriculture minister last Monday evening in connection with a CBA probe which the Polish daily Dziennik claims appears to have tried to set up Lepper in a bribery investigation.
CBA investigators appear to have no concrete evidence suggesting Lepper took a bribe in connection with the case, based on re-zoning agricultural land for commercial and residential use in the Mazurian Lakes region, a popular holiday destination in north-east Poland.
The Samoobrona party leader and former minister of agriculture insists he is completely innocent.
His dismissal cast a shadow over the future of the Kaczynski government, with the prime minister himself saying early elections were possible this coming fall.
Poland's next scheduled general election is due in the autumn of 2009.
PiS Prime Minister Kaczynski took command of the rocky three-party coalition government including the populist Samoobrona and the right-wing LPR a year ago, after taking over from Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz.
Kaczynski sacked Lepper last year over personal differences only to renominate him within a few weeks after a political scandal sent PiS popularity ratings into a nose-dive.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur