Saturday, February 10, 2007

Poland's interior minister quits

Ludwik Dorn, Poland's interior minister, resigned on Wednesday, two days after Radoslaw Sikorski, defence minister, left the cabinet in a shake-up spurred by differences over how to run the vital ministries.

The dismissals came as a surprise after Jaroslaw Kaczynski, prime minister, said on Tuesday that the changes he was going to make to his government would be minor. The media had speculated that the economy minister and the maritime economy minister might go.

Mr Dorn, an anti-communist, poet and close friend of both the prime minister and his twin brother, President Lech Kaczynski, said he had signalled in January that he had differences with the premier over policy.

"I told the premier I was at his disposal because I have a different opinion concerning the handling of one of the problems in the ministry," Mr Dorn said at a news conference after his resignation, without giving details.

In spite of leaving the interior ministry, Mr Dorn retains his position as deputy prime minister. He said that despite their differences, Mr Kaczynski was "the best Polish prime minister since 1989".

The government said Janusz Kaczmarek, Polish prosecutor-general, would take over as interior minister. Mr Kaczmarek made his name exposing corruption.

Mr Sikorski, 42, was replaced on Wednesday by Aleksander Szczyglo, head of the presidential chancellery.

President Lech Kaczynski praised Mr Sikorski for his contribution to the modernisation of the Polish army. The statement was interpreted as insincere because of their well-known differences of opinion regarding the management of the sector.

Mr Sikorski is believed to have taken a tough stance during negotiations with the US on the installation of an anti-missile shield in Poland.

Mr Szczyglo, 44, a law graduate from Gdansk university, was a deputy defence minister briefly in 2005 before he took over the job in the chancellery.

In another surprise, the presidential office announced the resignation of Andrzej Krawczyk, an official in the presidential chancellery in charge of international problems.

Mr Krawczyk issued a statement that the intelligence services informed the president a few days ago that he had had contacts with communist military intelligence in the past. Mr Krawczyk denied the allegations