President vetoes demotion bill
President Andrzej Duda has vetoed a bill allowing demotions of officers and soldiers found to have acted against Polish interests in the years 1943-1990. "I have doubts," the president said.
"Stripping the WRON management of their military ranks is not very debatable, but WRON was not only made up of those people," President Duda explained.
The bill is primarily aimed against General Wojciech Jaruzelski, Poland's late communist-era strongman and later Polish president and members of Poland's 1981-83 Military Council of National Salvation (WRON), a military junta under Jaruzelski which administered the People's Republic of Poland after the December 13, 1981 imposition of martial law in the country.
Among the demotion candidates is also Czeslaw Kiszczak, a longtime head of communist-Polish security, both of whom held the rank of general. Also considered for demotion was Miroslaw Hermaszewski, Poland's first and, to date, only astronaut, who also sat on the WRON body.
Explaining his veto on Friday, Andrzej Duda said the decision had been difficult, and stressed that he saw the purposefulness of the demotions of Jaruzelski and the remaining WRON members, as they "were people who worked to Poland's detriment, who helped build a system that oppressed us Poles." However, President Duda observed, the act had serious drawbacks and proposed "unjust solutions," which prompted him to veto it.
The president said his main objection was that the bill offered no possibility of appeal or defence means for those being demoted, and provided no form of representation for deceased defendants in demotion cases. According to Andrzej Duda these were "serious moral drawbacks."
"(In the demotion act) there is no spokesperson for deceased persons, (...) nor any mandatory defence provisions. I think this should be in the act and I hold this as a very serious moral drawback of this act," President Duda said. He added that the bill in its present form violated democratic standards.
"The solution adopted in the act, namely that the WRON members (...) have no possibility of lodging explanations or appeals (...) is something I cannot accept as president," Andrzej Duda stated.
He also informed that after Easter he planned to discuss the matter with the defence minister, the head of the Office for War Veterans and Victims of Oppression and veteran representatives. (PAP)