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UPDATE: Polish parliamentary Speaker to quit amid row over trips on gov’t planes

08.08.2019 13:46
The Speaker of the lower house of Poland’s parliament said on Thursday that he would resign amid a welter of criticism over trips he took with his family using government planes.
Marek Kuchciński
Marek Kuchciński PAP/Marcin Obara

The announcement came as the country’s bitterly opposed political parties gear up for autumn parliamentary elections.

At a brief press conference, Marek Kuchciński said his decision to quit was prompted by “social expectations”. But he insisted he had not broken the law.

He added: "Since, however, the public evaluates my conduct negatively, I have decided that I will no longer be able to continue in this role” as Speaker.

Kuchciński said he would hand in his resignation on Friday. Opposition politicians accused him of using government planes as luxury air taxis and demanded details of flights by other top figures in Poland’s ruling party.

Kuchciński hails from the governing conservative Law and Justice (PiS), which aims to win a second consecutive term in power in parliamentary elections scheduled for October 13.

The party has repeatedly condemned the corruption, shady dealings and reckless use of public funds which it says tainted the previous centre-right Civic Platform-led government headed by Donald Tusk, who is now president of the European Council.

Kuchciński told reporters that "the number of flights causing controversy was dictated by the large number of meetings with residents, often from small towns, that I had during my work."

Earlier this week he said that over the last four years he was accompanied by relatives on 23 trips by plane.

Meanwhile, PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński said on Thursday that his ruling conservatives would in the near future propose “rigorous” rules on who and in what circumstances is entitled to fly in government aircraft.

On Wednesday, the Warsaw District Prosecutor's Office announced it was probing whether there were irregularities in how Kuchciński used official planes.

(pk)

Source: PAP/IAR